Associate director picked for research park

CHAMPAIGN – Laura Frerichs has been named associate director of the University of Illinois Research Park and its business incubator, EnterpriseWorks, effective June 16.

Frerichs is well-acquainted with the park, having marketed it for the park's manager, Fox/Atkins Development, and handled tenant relations there.

In her new role, she will manage EnterpriseWorks and help young companies that started there to "graduate" into separate quarters in the park or elsewhere. Her appointment is subject to approval by the UI Board of Trustees.

Frerichs' salary will be about $121,000, said Avijit Ghosh, the UI's vice president for technology and economic development. Her appointment was approved Monday by the research park's board of directors.

Ghosh called Frerichs "an ardent advocate of start-up companies" who has helped them connect with resources in the community. He said she has "wonderful credibility in the community for advocating entrepreneurship."

Frerichs, 31, is married to state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign. She has worked for Fox Development Corp. since 2005 as vice president of business development.

In that position, she markets the park to Fortune 500 companies, works with tenants and plans construction of new buildings.

Before taking the job with Fox, she worked for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity as senior account manager in East Central Illinois.

Although Frerichs' title is associate director of the park, she reports directly to Ghosh. There is no director per se.

Frerichs said her job will include marketing the research park to prospective companies, but leasing and day-to-day property management will continue to be handled by Fox Development.

She said working with research-park firms has been "rewarding," and she's looking forward to working with start-up companies and on technology commercialization.

Peter Fox, chairman of Fox Development, called the appointment "a good opportunity for Laura, a good opportunity for the university" and said his firm is well-positioned too.

He said Frerichs' move to the UI leaves "big shoes to fill" at Fox Development, but he's hiring Allecia Grubb as business development manager, effective May 18.

Grubb works as a project manager for Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate firm in Chicago. She has a bachelor's degree in architecture from the UI.

Fox said he expects to meet weekly with Frerichs, Grubb and Masha Trenhaile, managing broker for the brokerage associated with Fox Development, once Frerichs takes her new job.

He said Frerichs' work ethic and capabilities equip her to handle not only EnterpriseWorks, but also the entire research park and broader economic-development opportunities as well.

Ghosh said the research park board did a regional search for candidates resulting in applications from 30 people.

He said Frerichs has much the same job that Scott Pickard had at the park before he left earlier this year to become associate director of the UI's Information Trust Institute. Pickard's title at the park was manager, and after his departure, Assistant Manager Dan DoBell took on additional responsibilities.

In addition to Frerichs, Ghosh said the UI has three other staff members at EnterpriseWorks: an assistant manager, an administrative assistant and employees handling accounting and information technology.

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