URBANA — Urbana business owner Lori Gold Patterson is Parkland College's 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year.
Patterson co-founded Pixo, a software engineering consulting firm, in 1998. Since then, her staff has grown from three to 33 people, and there is now an office in Chicago. Patterson also serves as a mentor for entrepreneurs at the University of Illinois.
Patterson said she was born to create businesses.
"I was an entrepreneur at a very early age, selling my next-door neighbor's rocks out of his driveway," she said.
"I was painting the rocks and selling them to students on the Quad so I could get penny candy money. I had a couple other businesses as a kid."
She will receive the V. Dale Cozad Entrepreneur of the Year Award during at a fundraiser banquet for the Parkland College Entrepreneurial Program June 8 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign.
Her company designs and builds custom systems, mobile apps, enterprise websites and cutting-edge hardware and software integrations.
She worked for Accenture in Chicago before moving to Caterpillar to head up a 20-person product development team. She later worked for Solo Cup, where she re-engineered processes and products throughout the company.
Patterson has chaired boards of the Urbana Business Association and the Economic Development Corporation. She received the Woman on the Rise Award from the Illinois State Treasurer's Office, the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Management Award and the Athena Award.
The Parkland College Entrepreneurial Program is a partnership between the college and community members committed to developing educated leaders for today's workforce.
The program provides scholarships to students demonstrating potential for growth as future managers, leaders and innovators, with the aim that they work in the Parkland district.