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Women’s Business Center Reauthorization Takes First Step

Thanks to Jack Clabaugh of Madison Services Group for this update.

Sandy Patterson, of New 2 You, giving donation checks to JEDI, Meals on Wheels and Mercy Hospice, Mount Shasta
Sandy Patterson, of New 2 You, giving donation checks to JEDI, Meals on Wheels and Mercy Hospice, Mount Shasta. JEDI hosts a Women’s Business Center

The Senate Small Business Committee unanimously approved the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2015, which reauthorizes the Women’s Business Center (WBC) program. CAMEO applauds the efforts of Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) for their leadership on this legislation. California is home to 1.3 million women-owned businesses or 13% nationwide. Providing women entrepreneurs with business training and counseling opportunities will grow and expand the California economy.

Last week, CAMEO’s Heidi Pickman advocated for WBC program reauthorization during her Congressional visits. This bill will authorize the WBC program at $21.75 million through FY2020. Also, WBCs will receive grants up to $250,000, rather than the previous maximum of $150,000. Funds above the $250,000 level will be made available to centers that meet goals and wish to establish new projects. These updated funding levels will encourage growth in established centers and allow WBCs to provide additional support to women entrepreneurs.

The Act also requires important updates to the WBC program. It provides flexibility to centers that are unable to raise non-federal matching funds by allowing a hardship waiver and the Act removes auditing and reporting requirements for funds that centers raise, above their required match. To streamline program rules and improve the granting process, the Small Business Administration will collaborate with stakeholders to develop and implement solutions.

Women own nearly one third of all microbusinesses and the Senate Small Business Committee has just passed legislation that will expand that number. This legislation will provide WBCs with additional funding and tools to support women entrepreneurs and boost the California economy.