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Public Statements

The Importance of Women-Owned Small Businesses

Location: Washington, DC

PAGE S11909
Sept. 24, 2003

The Importance of Women-Owned Small Businesses

(At the request of Mr. Daschle, the following statement was ordered to be printed in the RECORD.)

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I speak today to congratulate the 17 recipients of the Small Business Administration's Outstanding Women Entrepreneur Award.

These inventive and resourceful entrepreneurs are leaders in a national community of women's businesses, which continue to outpace all other companies in overall growth—in number of firms, employment and sales. Women-owned firms are constantly breaking down the barriers of our past and proving that the business world is no longer a boys-only club. As many in the small business community are aware, women-owned companies have become increasingly important to our Nation's jobs and economy. Today there are over 10.1 million women-owned firms, employing 18.2 million workers, and generating $2.32 trillion in sales.

With assistance from the SBA, these 17 women honored during last week's Small Business Week have created businesses that serve as remarkable examples of successful entrepreneurship in a variety of industries.

Patricia Miller, Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, Rebecca Matthais, and Dr. Taryn Rose all started their own businesses in the fashion industry, relying on the SBA for loans and counseling. Patricia and Barbara created Vera Bradley Designs, a company that produces a popular line of luggage and handbags. Rebecca's company, Mothers Work, is now one of the leading providers of maternity clothes of women across the country. Taryn combined her medical knowledge as an orthopedic surgeon with her love of fashion to create a footwear company that is projecting to reach over $20 million in sales this year.

The SBA has also helped several of these women break into male-dominated industries, like construction and defense. Donna Brinkmeyer-Asman of Clark Manufacturing, Lurita Doan of New Technology Management, and Carolyn Minerich of Carmin Industries have all created companies that have grown to include major defense-industry clients. Tina Cordova looked to the SBA's Small Business Development Center and SCORE programs to help her company, Queston
Construction, expand from 2 to 26 employees.

Kathryn Freeland, Marilyn Melkonian, Patty DeDominici, Nikki Olyai, Jeannette Lee White, and Julie Morgenstern all looked to the SBA to help them create their businesses. Now they are advising much larger businesses on potential employees, technology, and management issues.

These women and their employees are not only beneficiaries of their companies' successes. In addition to starting and growing successful businesses, these women have made significant contributions to their communities. Blue Crab Bay, started by award recipient Pamela Barefoot, creates specialty food items for seafood lovers and uses its profits to give back to the Chesapeake Bay community. The company has given back to its community through scholarships, charity events, and donations to groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

I would also like to recognize the accomplishments of awardees Heather Howitt, Judy George, and Maria Welch. Heather, along with cofounders Tedde McMillen, Carla Powell, and Lori Woolfrey, recognized a potential market for their traditional Chai drink, and now their company, Oregon Chai, sells its chai tea lattes at stores in all 50 States. Maria's company, Respira Medical, is a leading respiratory and durable home medical care equipment distributor in Maryland. Judy's Domain home furnishings company was recently featured on the popular television makeover program "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

I commend these 17 women for their creativity in business, their leadership for women entrepreneurs, and their generous contributions to their local communities. As the number of women business owners continues to grow—currently the number of women-owned businesses is growing at double the rate of all U.S. firms—we must do everything we can to ensure that these businesses have every opportunity to flourish. To that end, we are working to pass the Small Business Administration 50th Anniversary Reauthorization Act of 2003, legislation that will protect the extremely effective and well-established Women's Business Center network. With this bill we will also reestablish the Interagency Committee on Women's Business Enterprise to give women in business a greater voice in Federal policymaking. The 2003 SBA reauthorization legislation also closes the loopholes in Federal procurement practice that have allowed agencies to bundle contracts and limit Federal contracting opportunities for small and women-owned businesses. In addition, this bill will strengthen all of the SBA's access to capital, entrepreneurial development, and contracting programs, including those that helped bring success to the 17 recipients of the Outstanding Women Entrepreneur Award.

I hope my colleagues in the Senate will join me and Senator SNOWE in recognizing the important contribution these women, and other women in business across America, make to our Nation's economy by passing the SBA Reauthorization Act of 2003 and fully funding the SBA's programs.·

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