In Fiscal Year 2010, the National Women’s Business Council continued to focus on reaching out to the women business owner community through summits and town halls, while promoting “growth” as the main focus of its independent research.
The Council held summits in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, and Denver, CO with local women business owners to hear their concerns and discuss issues of importance. Additionally, the Council conducted a town hall in Salem, MA, continuing to build upon town halls that have taken place all over the country in the past few years. These outreach efforts remain a pivotal part of the Council’s work and are discussed in detail below.On the research agenda, “growth” loomed as the main topic of discussion. The Council developed three separate studies that focused on different questions of importance on growing women-owned businesses, all of which are detailed in the following sections.
The past year also brought about several developments of interest for women business owners who have struggled with the recent, challenging economic environment:
- On September 27, 2010, President Obama signed the Small Business Jobs Act into law. The bill includes a series of new initiatives that will help small businesses. Just a few of the provisions include: an extension of the SBA Recovery Loan Provisions, an increase in the maximum loan size for SBA loans, establishment of a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund, and eight new small business tax cuts
- In October 2010, the Women’s Procurement Rule, or the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program Rule, went into effect. The rule identifies 83 industries in which women-owned small businesses are under-represented or substantially under-represented in the federal contract marketplace. Under the rule, these additional industries will be now eligible to participate in federal contracts when the competition is restricted to women-owned businesses that are under-represented.
- On December 7, the Census Bureau released women-owned business data from their 2007 Survey of Business Owners. In 2007, there were 7.8 million women-owned businesses, accounting for 28.7% of all businesses nationwide. These businesses generated $1.2 trillion in receipts, which is about 3.9% of business receipts for all businesses nationwide. Of these women-owned businesses, 11.7% had paid employees. These employee firms employed 7.6 million people, paying them $217.6 billion. Another 88.3% of women-owned businesses had no paid employees.
A requirement that five percent of federal contracts go to women-owned small businesses became final in October 2010 and is slated to take effect in 2011. The Small Business Jobs Act allows the SBA to offer enhanced loan provisions through the end of 2010 and to strengthen the ability of small businesses to compete for federal contract opportunities. However, even with these developments, many challenges remain for women business owners.
The NWBC hosted several events in 2010 around the country in an effort to identify the most compelling issues affecting women business owners and entrepreneurs. The reports from each of these events are available on our website for review. For the purposes of summarizing, this annual report provides a synopsis of each document.