Cantwell Calls on Congress to Fund Women’s Business Centers, Reject Proposed Cuts
In Fiscal Year 2017, WBCs helped create more than 23,000 jobs and 17,000 new businesses
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a former Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, led a group of 18 of her Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the leadership of the Financial Services and General Government Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, urging them to maintain funding for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Women’s Business Centers (WBC) and reject the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut funding for the program.
The Women’s Business Center program was first established in 1988 to provide specialized assistance to women starting a business, particularly in economically and socially disadvantaged communities. In Fiscal Year 2017 alone, the program served more than 148,000 female entrepreneurs around the country, helping them to access nearly $500 million in private capital, establish more than 17,000 new businesses, and create over 23,000 new jobs.
In the letter, Cantwell and her colleagues emphasized the importance of women entrepreneurs, as well as the assistance that WBCs provide.
“More and more women are starting their own small businesses. WBCs have assisted over 2 million women in this effort,” the senators wrote. “The latest data shows that there are more than 11 million women who now own firms in the United States, an increase of 45 percent since 2007 and 5 times the national average rate. Together, women-owned businesses have 9 million employees and generate $1.6 trillion in revenues.”
Senator Cantwell has long supported efforts to promote and support women-owned businesses. In 2014, she introduced the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014, to increase funding for loans for women-owned businesses, increase funding for WBCs, and promote women-owned businesses in the federal contracting process. She also released a report on female entrepreneurship in Washington state. In 2015, Cantwell introduced a bill to reauthorize the WBC program and increase its funding. She has also helped WBCs in Washington state to receive federal funding, including a $1.5 million grant to the City of Tacoma for its Minority Business Development Agency Business Center in 2016.
In addition to Senator Cantwell, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
The full text of the letter can be found below:
April 20, 2018
Dear Chairman Lankford and Ranking Member Coons:
We are writing to respectfully request that the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2019 provide $18 million for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Women’s Business Center (WBC) program. The SBA's Women's Business Center program was established in 1988 by the Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-533) to provide specialized counseling, training, and other assistance to women, particularly in socially and economically disadvantaged communities. In Fiscal Year 2017, WBCs served more than 148,000 entrepreneurs by providing more than 100,000 hours of training and counseling. WBCs assisted with nearly $500 million in private capital infusion and helped create more than 23,000 jobs and 17,000 new businesses.
More and more women are starting their own small business. WBCs have assisted over 2 million women in this effort. The latest data shows that there are more than 11 million women who now own firms in the United States, an increase of 45 percent since 2007 and 5 times the national average rate. Together, women-owned businesses have 9 million employees and generate $1.6 trillion in revenues. Today, minority-women-owned small businesses account for one-third of all women-owned businesses in the United States.
Yet, funding for WBCs has remained flat for many years. The President’s Budget requests $16 million funding for WBCs for FY2019, a $2 million cut from current levels. The WBC program is deserving of federal funding, and any cuts to the program would seriously harm the only network dedicated to serving the country’s more than 11 million women entrepreneurs.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
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