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UW-Eau Claire SBDC's Kempen receives State Star Award

Luke Kempen, director of the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has been awarded the 2015 America’s SBDC State Star Award for Wisconsin.  

The State Star Award acknowledges Kempen’s work helping small business owners start, improve and grow their companies. Over the past two years, with his leadership and direct assistance, clients served by the SBDC in Eau Claire generated more than $23 million in business capital, added 92 jobs and started more than 44 new business enterprises.

Kempen draws on his own business experience when working with clients to support their success. Before joining the Wisconsin SBDC Network team, Kempen held audit positions at Arthur Andersen in Milwaukee and served in senior leadership roles in fast-growing private companies in Eau Claire. Kempen’s experience as an entrepreneur includes starting and growing a company and then successfully selling it for profit. A certified public accountant, Kempen provides SBDC clients with assistance in business financial planning as well as succession and transition planning.

"Having been a business owner, I can directly relate to the entrepreneur trying to start and grow a business,” Kempen said.  “I understand the challenges of starting and growing a business. I can bring this experience along with my finance and accounting background to the process when serving clients.”  

Business owners and economic development professionals statewide gain access to the resources of the UW System universities and regional experts through their work with Wisconsin SBDC consultants.

“Our partnership with the Wisconsin SBDC Network, the UW System and the local economic development partners in our region give the SBDC the tools and resources to help make entrepreneurs successful,” Kempen said.  

Wisconsin SBDC State Director Bon Wikenheiser announced Kempen’s selection as the 2015 ASBDC State Star.

“Luke is very deserving of the ASBDC State Star designation,” Wikenheiser said. “He has demonstrated great skill in working with clients to start, grow and increase the performance of their businesses. His contributions to his peers in the financial consultation area are second to none. The network is stronger because of his mentorship to new consultants and his expertise in assisting clients. UW-Eau Claire SBDC is very lucky to have Luke at its helm.”

Kempen, along with State Stars from across the country, were recognized at the national America’s Small Business Development Centers annual conference in September in San Francisco. 

The Wisconsin SBDC Network, a program of UW-Extension, supports entrepreneurs and business owners statewide through no-cost, confidential consulting and targeted educational programs. Regional SBDC experts facilitate improvement and growth for small and emerging mid-size companies and help launch successful enterprises. The Wisconsin SBDC at UW-Eau Claire serves Eau Claire, Chippewa, Dunn, Pepin, Clark, Rusk, Taylor and Barron counties. To find an SBDC center near you, visit or call the Wisconsin Business AnswerLine at 800-940-7232. The SBDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

For more information about Luke Kempen’s recognition with the 2015 America’s SBDC State Star Award for Wisconsin, contact Allyson Gommer, marketing manager for UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education, at or 715-836-5056.