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New Roundtables Encourage Women-Owned Businesses


It's no secret that female entrepreneurs are a significant force driving the U.S. economy. This week, the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Advocacy is recognizing the role that women-owned businesses play by holding a nationwide series of roundtables on women's entrepreneurship .

The roundtables, which take place between June 27 and June 30, will bring together federal officials, private sector representatives and female entrepreneurs to discuss the issues and challenges that female business owners face. Roundtables are being held in Portland, Maine, New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Madison, Wis., New Orleans, Des Moines, Denver, Los Angeles and Spokane, Wash.

A new study being released in conjunction with the roundtables shows that nationally, the number of women-owned businesses increased by almost 44 percent from 5.4 million in 1997 to 7.8 million in 2007. In addition, the number of women-owned businesses grew at twice the rate (44 percent) of male-owned businesses (22 percent) from 1997 to 2007.

The data also showed that the number of women-owned businesses increased in every state, and their rate of ownership generally increased or remained the same over the decade. The rate, however, rose and then fell slightly in some states from a high in 2002. The study also found that business ownership expanded in all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1997 and 2002.

“For continued economic growth, women entrepreneurs must play a prominent role,” said Winslow Sargeant, the SBA's chief counsel for advocacy.  “These roundtables will bring together women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to provide a forum to discuss issues impacting them .”