March is Women’s History Month and we’d like to highlight some of the great strides women business owners have made over the years.

In 2016, over 1.1 million businesses owned by women in the U.S. employed 9.4 million workers with a payroll of $318 billion. Annual receipts of these firms topped $1.5 trillion. There are over 8 million more females that are self-employed. Most female-owned firms (99.9 percent) are considered small businesses having less than 500 employees.

According to the latest data from the Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners, there were 21,500 woman-owned small businesses in North Dakota in 2017. North Dakota women-owned businesses employed 25,900 workers in 2017. Both were increases from 2012 figures.

Two past SBA award winners epitomize the success of women business owners – 2015 Small Business Person of the Year Paula Klein with Smartt Interior Construction and 2018 Small Business Person of the Year Kari Weigel with Sylvan Learning Center. Paula started the company in 2011 becoming a licensed contracting business that focuses on prefabricated commercial construction. In 2013, just her third year of business, the company surpassed $2 million in sales.

CTB helped Paula with her Women-Owned Business Certification. Kari purchased Sylvan in 2008 and has since expanded the business using an SBA 504 loan to add another physical location. She also added three satellites locations across North Dakota which has allowed her to increase employees by 50 percent.

By highlighting their success, we hope to inspire others to consider opening their own businesses and become the next SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Please help us celebrate Paula and Kari and all women-owned businesses this month.

If you’re thinking about starting, growing, expanding or recovering your business, SBA resource partners can help. For more information, visit www.sba.gov/nd or www.ndwbc.com.

Al Haut is the SBA District Director and Christy Dodd is the CTB Executive Director/ND Women’s Business Center.

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