National Women’s Business Council
First published September 2007
In March and June 2007, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held town hall meetings with women business owners in St. Louis, Missouri and in Portland, Oregon. The objective of the meetings was to collect viewpoints and ideas from women business owners that could inform the Council’s policy positions and their future recommendations to government leaders.
Each meeting brought together members of the National Women’s Business Council and women business owners for a day-long dialogue about issues that women business owners are facing. The meetings were held outside of the Washington, DC area to engage women entrepreneurs who are not normally connected to the national-level policy process. Targeted participants included women in all industries, of all experience levels, and of all income levels. The meetings were attended by nearly 200 women, including owners of both small and large businesses—from sole proprietors to businesses with several hundred employees—and from both emerging and long-established businesses. Participants also included national women’s business organizations, local organizations which support women business owners, and state and local policy leaders.
The meetings included a combination of plenary sessions and breakout sessions on specific issues faced by women business owners today. Specific topics—chosen because of their importance to almost all women business owners—included access to capital, affordable health care, government and corporate procurement, tax reform, education and workforce development, and technology. Each meeting included introductory comments from state and local government officials as well as reflections by members of the Council.
This report outlines policy issues that are relevant to women business owners and summarizes the content of the town hall meetings as it relates to those policy issues. The body of the report is intended to be an accounting of the ideas of the participants—it does not distinguish participants’ observations from what exists in reality, nor does it portray the positions of the National Women’s Business Council.