Last week, in recognition of National Women’s History Month, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) hosted a Small Business Roundtable in Pella, Iowa with Senator Joni Ernst, NWBC Chair Liz Sara, Council member Barbara Kniff-McCulla, Owner of KLK Construction, and over fifteen local women business owners.
The roundtable began with NWBC Chair Sara welcoming Senator Ernst and the fifteen women business owners, representing various business sectors from construction and manufacturing to an online floral business and a brewery owner. NWBC was honored to have Senator Ernst join the conversation, where she discussed her work on the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship and outlined her legislative priorities including increasing sole source contracting opportunities and paid family leave. Senator Ernst also touched on workforce training efforts and opportunity zones.
The highlight of the afternoon was a fireside chat between Senator Ernst and Council member Kniff-McCulla. They discussed topics ranging from broadband access to digital commerce and infrastructure. Kniff-McCulla remarked on the importance of the roundtable “for our rural community of Pella, to have a variety of women’s business owners sitting around the table, being able to tell their stories, and we appreciated Senator Ernst being a part of this.”
The discussion developed into introductions of the various small business owners and representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the SBA’s Office of Advocacy, the National Association of Women Business Owners (a representative of which also serves on the Council), Women’s Business Centers, and Small Business Development Centers. It was an incredible collection of women, all with unique stories of their own. The roundtable conversation also explored topics such as access to capital and markets, crowdfunding, technology, and infrastructure.
With an estimated 12.3 million women-owned firms, 89,000 of which are located in Iowa, NWBC recognizes the unique contributions that women-owned businesses make to the economy and remains committed to continuing to advocate for a platform to expand and improve opportunities for women business owners and their enterprises. This Women’s History Month, NWBC was intent on highlighting and exploring the successes and opportunities that rural women entrepreneurs.
NWBC will be releasing a research report on rural women’s entrepreneurship in May of 2019. Preliminarily, the report finds that despite the declining rate of entrepreneurship in rural areas, there remains great opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship. The Council looks forward to highlighting and sharing those successes, and making accompanying policy recommendations to the President, the Congress, and the SBA.