Meet Patti Zikmund, Project Consultant for the SBAC’s sister 501(c)(3) organization, SBAC Empower. Working for Empower, Patti wears about as many hats as possible in her quest to ensure Empower’s mission is on target. SBAC Empower was founded to provide resources to aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs in economically challenged neighborhoods across Chicagoland. The foundation of a neighborhood is its small business community: small businesses employ neighborhood residents, provide neighborhood services and are the center of neighborhood activities. Helping businesses start, grow and flourish can be a game changer in a struggling community.
Patti explains, “I love the fast-pace and diversity of start-ups,” when discussing her former position with Netscape. She loves to organize chaos in the growth of new businesses! Patti has a bachelor’s degree in International Business and dabbles in about 8 foreign languages (speaking fluently in 3)! Patti is extremely talented in the world of fitness and has too many credentials to fit in this article!
Some “fun facts” about Patti:
• She grew up predominately overseas
• She loves running
• She is a member of the “circus” for aerial arts
• She was in band, which was featured on German radio and even produced an EP
• She eats A LOT of M&Ms, but only the plain kind
SBAC Advocacy Update: Graduated Income Tax Town Hall to be held in Orland Park
The first in a series of town halls regarding the proposed graduated income tax will take place Tuesday, September 17th, between 9:00-11:00 A.M, in conjunction with the Orland Park Chamber of Commerce. Our members will discuss the proposed amendment with state legislators and officials before this important vote arrives at the ballot.
The town hall will be at the Orland Park Civic Center, 14750 Ravine Avenue in Orland Park. This town hall is free to attend and will be conducted in a nonpartisan manner.
Some of the questions we have heard from our members include:
• How will the revenue associated with the proposed graduated income tax be spent?
• Will there be property tax relief provided in conjunction with a proposed graduated income tax?
• How will the graduated income tax help stabilize Illinois’ economy?
Our panel will include:
Illinois Department of Revenue Director Davis Harris
SBAC is pleased to introduce Brian Kastle, Vice President of Business Banking Relationships for Fifth Third Bank, as this month’s PA spotlight.
Brian graduated with a BS in Finance from Western Illinois University, and later earned his MBA from DePaul University. Upon graduating, Brian joined MB Financial’s Leadership Development Program where he was able to rotate through several different departments within the bank to understand how the bank functions, thus developing a holistic understanding of the bank. Brian quickly found his home to be within Business Banking, as his passion and commitment lies with working with small businesses to help them grow and succeed. “Ultimately, I went on to pioneer the Business Banking Leadership Development Program role as its first designated hire, where I primarily worked as a credit analyst and assisted loan officers with the maintenance and development of client relationships,” Brian proudly reflects.
Brian wanted a career with a business that had strong ties to the Chicagoland community, as he is a proud Chicago native. He states, “One of my favorite parts of my position as a Business Banker for Fifth Third is visiting my clients at their location to learn their story and how their business operates behind the scene, which helps to better understand my client’s financing and banking needs.”
Brian is a proud Premier Advocate, as well as SBAC’s banker! When asked about his relationship with the SBAC, Brian says, “What I like most about the organization is its mission of political advocacy by working directly with our elected officials to help pass legislation that makes the playing field more friendly for small businesses in the State of Illinois. I also enjoy the networking opportunities and how the organization promotes business for its members by hosting Premier Advocate events on site of members locations, giving member business owners the chance to talk about their business while bringing more light to the way Premier Advocates can support them.”
Meet Drake Smith: a young professional who enjoys the everyday challenge of business banking. Drake joined the SBAC in 2018 as credit analyst for Signature Bank. Soon after, in 2019 Signature Bank became a proud sponsor of the SBAC. When discussing the SBAC, Drakes states, “The SBAC is a phenomenal organization with hard working individuals and inspiring leadership. We look forward to expanding our partnership in the future.” Drake’s admiration for the SBAC runs in the family, as his father Kevin Smith is the Co-Chair for the Northern Suburb Chapter.
Drake graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in finance and initiated his career with Signature Bank through their Management Associate Commercial Banking Development Program, a yearlong training program that allows trainees to rotate through various departments of the bank—Retail, Loan Operations, Treasury Management, Marketing, etc. When discussing his career goals, Drake says, “ Signature Bank appealed to me because they support the local, privately held business in Chicago and Illinois. Lending decisions that are critical to your business are made by real people who know you and your business strategy and are not just plugged into an algorithm. I was immediately drawn to Signature Bank’s sense of family and integration into the Chicago community. I have always sought a career that involves building relationships and supporting the community.”
As a Credit Analyst for Signature Bank, Drake underwrites commercial loans for locally based businesses. Underwriting loans can be challenging because every business tells a different story. Analyzing credit and financial reports to determine risk is not one size fits all. Drake mentions that he loves this part of his position with Signature Bank, learning about each business personally, understanding their needs and what will help them succeed is his goal.
Meet Jennifer Kurland: a self-motivated, young professional who loves learning! Jennifer joined the SBAC in 2017 as an employee of MXOtech, a Chicago IT support team. Jennifer is an active member of the Women in Business Board in an Educational and Professional Development role.
When discussing her career transition into the technology industry, Jennifer says, “I embrace the challenges that come with learning a new industry, because I see them as opportunities to learn something great.” Her passion for building long-term relationships and her natural ability to be task-oriented are two strengths that she is leveraging in her current role with MXOtech.
Jennifer reflects on her interview with MXOtech’s CEO, Joanna Sobran: “I was instantly charged with a ‘can-do’ attitude within myself. When my instinct told me that here I would have a mentor, I knew I had to go for it. It has always been my goal to surround myself with people who want to work for their success and are authentic and passionate about helping people and sharing knowledge. I have found this at MXOtech. Being with MXOtech excites me because it is always changing, and it’s full of diverse individuals who are dedicated to making the right business decisions for every client”.
Business owners and operators require technology and data that can be effectively used to help them make strategic business decisions that will support and allow their business to grow. In her role in Business Development, Jennifer Kurland is the person to help empower these business leaders with the proper tools, expertise, and support they need.
“Why should a company work with an IT services firm?”, asks Jennifer. “When you find the right one to deliver quality work on time and on budget, it can lead to a quick resolution of issues and free you to concentrate on your essential business operations. The key is the ‘right’ partner”.
Contact Jennifer at email@example.com and she will share tips on how to ensure you select the right IT support partner.