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Impact of the Women’s Business Center Program

Analyzing the Economic Impact of the Women’s Business Center Program

Quality Research Associates for the National Women’s Business Council

First published July 2004

Between 2001 and 2003, the U.S. Small Business Administration provided $37 million in funding to up to 92 women’s business centers across the country. A new analysis of data provided by these centers to the SBA shows that this investment is paying off in increasing numbers of clients counseled, businesses started, and new jobs created.

The new report, “Analyzing the Impact of the Women’s Business Center Program,” published by the National Women’s Business Council, focuses on women’s business center program data from fiscal years 2001, 2002, and 2003. During the two-year period from 2001 to 2003 – while funding for the program remained essentially flat ($12 million in 2001 and $12.5 million in 2003) – the number of client contacts rose 61%, the number of clients served nearly doubled (a 91% increase), the number of new firms created increased by 376%, and the businesses counseled by these centers generated an estimated economic impact of $500 million in gross receipts, with $51.4 million in profits. Over the period, women’s business center clients reported starting 6,660 new firms and creating 12,719 new jobs.

“This important new analysis clearly shows that the women’s business center program is finding its stride,” said Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairman and CEO of Carlson Companies and Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. “The growth in the number of clients served, new businesses started and jobs being created is definitely helping to fuel the tremendous growth in women’s entrepreneurship we are seeing across the country. Women-owned businesses are making a vital contribution to this Nation’s economy, and women’s business centers are playing an invaluable role in helping these businesses start and grow.”

The Women’s Business Center (WBC) program got its start in the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-553, also known as HR5050), which also established the National Women’s Business Council. From four “demonstration sites,” the program currently provides support to 88 centers with a budget of $12.5 million in FY2004. The program was designed to pay particular attention to the needs of underserved populations – socially and economically disadvantaged women – and the new report shows that the program is reaching that audience. While one in five (20%) existing majority-owned, privately-held women-owned firms is owned by a woman or women of color, fully 46% of the clients of women’s business centers are women of color. And, over the 2001-2003 period, two-thirds of the women’s business centers reported an increase in the share of minority clients served.

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