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2011 Most Influential Women Honoree: Rayanna Anderson

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Rayanna Anderson’s influence on the Springfield-area community can best be summed up in two words: economic development.

She became director of Missouri State University’s Small Business and Technology Development Center in 2007, and since then, the center has helped client businesses increase sales by more than $49 million, nab more than $48 million in approved loans and investments, retain 2,852 jobs and create 1,513 new ones. The center also has assisted in the creation of 51 new businesses and eased transitions after seven acquisitions, as well as provided training to more than 2,500 attendees of 310 educational seminars.

“I am extremely proud of the statewide impact our small, dedicated staff is able to achieve year after year,” Anderson says.

Anderson has played an instrumental role in the planning, design and development of the Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development, a business incubator in downtown Springfield where SBDTC is expected to set up shop in 2012.

Allen Kunkel, MSU associate vice president of economic development and director of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center, has worked alongside Anderson and others to make the business incubator a reality.

“Rayanna is a great collaborator and team player. I very much look forward to working closer with her as we fully implement the business incubator program,” Kunkel says. “(She) has dedicated her career to assisting small business, which has had a tremendous impact on the Springfield region.”

Anderson also plays a mentoring role in furthering the education and advancement of the center’s staff and graduate students. She says at least six of the center’s graduate students have gone on to become certified public accountants, while at least two now hold executive positions in national and international organizations.

“Employing and mentoring outstanding professional staff is only the beginning of the process for a leader,” Anderson says. “Helping them achieve their professional goals, even if it means seeking opportunity outside the organization, truly sets a good leader apart.”

A member of the Greater Ozarks International Trade Association since its inception in 1991, Anderson is as a member of Gov. Jay Nixon’s regional planning team for southwest Missouri. She’s also a member of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s international business council and helped plan the Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium in conjunction with Drury University’s Edward Jones Center for Entrepreneurship.

Click here for full coverage of the 2011 Most Influential Women.

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