Recently in the Women Impacting Public Policy Category

The dawn of the New Year provides an excellent opportunity to review the successes of 2014, and to assess areas of improvement for 2015. The National Women's Business Council's annual report, "Building Bridges: Leveraging Research and Relationships to Impact the Business Climate for Women" does exactly that, providing us with an overview of women entrepreneurship, including a summary of key research findings, policy recommendations and the Council's agenda in the year ahead. The report rests on NWBC's four pillar platform- access to capital, access to markets, job creation and growth, and data collection- and confirms what many of us already know, that the full economic participation of women is essential to economic growth in the U.S. 


Access to capital remains a key issue for women business owners. In order to better understand the ways in which women business owners accessed capital, NWBC worked with the SBA to analyze loan data, partnered with Walker's Legacy to host a round-table specific to women of color and access to capital, and commissioned new research on under-capitalizationThe research shows a direct link between access to capital and revenue generation, with men starting their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women, a disparity which increases among firms with high growth potential. The report highlights crowdfunding as an important new resource for women business owners seeking capital.

The NWBC also focused much research on access to markets for women business owners, using WIPP's own ChallengeHER campaign as a building block for identifying best practices in government procurement. Thanks to the Women Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, more and more federal contracts are being awarded to women owned small businesses. However, disparities still remain in regard to award amount between WOSBs and non-WOSBs, most likely as a result of different contract types. 

In 2013, the Council called for an increase in the number of women owned or led firms in incubators and accelerators in an attempt to increase job creation and growth. In 2014, the Council honored this commitment, through championing the SBA's Office of Investment and Innovation's Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, convening a public meeting on STEM, entrepreneurship, and women, and commissioning new research on micro-businesses and accelerators and incubators. Research shows that women with dependent children are less likely to add additional employees, indicating that child care burdens are still a significant obstacle to the growth of women owned small businesses. 

The report concludes with a number of different, concrete strategies for each pillar, building off of past success while also acknowledging areas for improvement. Among many other things, the NWBC recommends: tax credits for investors who finance women-owned and led firms; creating opportunities to align women business owners with government and corporate procurement officials; improvement of the availability and timeliness of government and private sector data on women owned small businesses; the implementation of the sole source authority for the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program (yay!). 

The National Women's Business Council is a crucial resource for women entrepreneurs and business owners. The research and recommendations they provide acts as a road map for the success of women entrepreneurs, success which is reached through hard work, partnerships and persistence. 2014 was a great year for women entrepreneurs, and 2015 looks just as promising. 

Even in the face of unnecessary headwinds created by things like a government shutdown or the still-present threat of a debt-limit default in February (despite the respite offered by the budget compromise), the economic recovery witnessed in recent years is real and encouraging. And near the center of this recovery has been the emergence of a natural gas boom the likes of which few could have predicted, but the breadth of this impact could be greater with policies in place like those that enable American producers to access global markets.


As business owners, one area that should be addressed concerns the need to move liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects forward in a timely manner. The United States has a great economic incentive to pursue increasing LNG experts, and the ability to do so. 

A recent economy in every market scenario examined. In fact, multiple studies show that increasing the exports would work wonders for our domestic economic outlook, and that our reserves can easily meet the elevated demand resulting from access to global markets. 

The economic benefits resulting from increasing LNG exports would be felt far beyond the energy sector. According to a recent ICF International study, the United States could add up to 452, 300 jobs between 2016 and 2035 by increasing LNG production, with total annual GDP growth expanding from $15.6 to $73.6 billion annually between 2016 and 2035.

We would like more clarity on why the DOE is delaying LNG exports. It's certainly not because of a lack of means or capacity to produce. 

The United States ranks #1 in the world in recoverable shale gas reserves. We have ample resources to meet domestic needs and export LNG for decades to come, and we have the political will - from Oregon to Texas to Maryland - to do just that.

Unfortunately, nearly all of these projects - and the permits that they require prior to starting to export - have been sitting in the queue, waiting for approval from the Department of Energy. Applications to export LNG to non-FTA countries have also been in queue before the DOE for months - and in many cases, even years, with no evident timetable for their approval or even their review. What's more, even among those few permits that have been approved, actual construction and competition is no guarantee thanks to the myriad hurdles that export terminals must clear, including, but not limited to environmental review, FERC permits, state siting, potential lawsuits, and financing. LNG export facilities take several years to finance, approve, and finally construct.

While we can all agree that a thorough review process is vital to any infrastructure project, it is clear to us that the delays currently being witnessed relative to the LNG exports are plainly contrary to our national economic interest. And as this delay continues, we run the very real risk of watching the window of opportunity close when it comes to LNG exports.

Market conditions in the United States and globally currently favor America's entrance into the export market. Domestic prices are low, while international prices are high. But this is not a permanent dynamic. Prices can shift. And more over, the United States is not the only nation that hope to export LNG. In fact, as recently as last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Canada to discuss Japan's significant need for imported natural gas. Canada would be more than happy to fill that need - particularly if they face no competition from American companies. 

Export is an important initiative for WIPP, and certainly for its members who are in the energy sector. They feel that it is essential that the DOE acts quickly to spur action on the pending applications. We need to urge the DOE to approve all pending applications for LNG export and let the market determine viability.

The U.S. has a rare opportunity to impact the global energy landscape while narrowing our trade deficit and adding domestic jobs and growth. Let's see if we can cut through the red tape that is holding up needed investment. 

by Barbara Kasoff, President, WIPP

The Numbers Are Out

11:47 AM July 8, 2013

By: Roz Klann


The numbers have been counted, dollars (billions of them) have been tallied, and we now finally have the annual report on the government's effort to contract with small businesses in FY12. Though the government did not meet its 5% goal for contracts awarded to women-owned small businesses and did not meet its 23% goal or contracts awarded to small businesses, there was still a slight increase from FY11 in both areas respectively, although this is no cause for celebration.

Last year marks the 7th consecutive year in which government has failed to meet its obligations to small businesses. The numbers for women-owned small businesses and small businesses for FY12, FY11, and the government-wide contracting goals are below.

                                                 Government-Wide Performance

 

2011 Achievement

2012 Goal

2012 Achievement

Small Business

21.65%

23.00%

22.25%

Women-Owned Small Business

3.98%

5.00%

4.00%


These numbers reflect the growing importance of the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program to increase opportunities for women-owned small businesses to contract with federal government. WIPP has staunchly advocated that the government reach its contracting  goals, starting Give Me 5 (a hardly subtle reference to the contract goal for WOSBs), as well as recent partnership with SBA and American Express OPEN to roll out our ChallengeHER initiative. Let's hope that FY13, in tandem with these initiatives, can break this cycle of coming up short. Check out Give Me 5 here, ChallengeHER here, and find the contracting report for FY12 here.



By John Stanford, WIPP, Government Relations


It's that week of the year again: National Small Business Week. A flurry of interest, awards and panels all about the integral role of small business in the American economy. As many of you would know, WIPP was a sponsor of the week and at the first event, WIPP President, Barbara Kasoff talked about the pivotal role women-owned businesses play, particularly through government contracting, in strengthening the small business community. (Read about the week's events and stories here).

The week serves as a stark reminder of just how important small businesses are. We know the statistics: half of Americans work for, or own a small business, and small businesses create just about two out of every three new jobs in America each year. Something else I heard this week, however, was a message around small businesses that I didn't know--that we need to focus on protecting our work and our businesses. Protecting our intellectual property.

The President seems to think so as well. In his remarks on Small Business Week, he focused on protecting innovation and trade, "At a time when abusive patent litigation is stifling economic growth and putting companies of all sizes at risk, my Administration is taking action to protect innovators and keep our patent system strong." He went on to talk about that protection going beyond our borders by bringing more small businesses to the global marketplace through export. WIPP agrees--and launched ExportNOW to further that aim. But the President isn't the only politician talking about small businesses and intellectual property right now.

Earlier this month, Senator Ted Cruz(R-TX), a rumored presidential hopeful, took time to explain this critical link between intellectual property (IP) and small business. In a question on how Washington can support small businesses,Sen. Cruz included the need to "be vigorous in protecting intellectual property" and to "focus on the environment that allows small businesses to thrive and prosper." (Watch the video of en. Cruz on IP and small business here). 

It appears that both sides of the aisle can agree on this issue---which should be a sign to us, as a cornerstone of the small business community, that we need to protect our investments, our livelihoods, our businesses. But as the week's 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement noted, "Small businesses can be particularly vulnerable to intellectual property theft, simply because many small businesses may not be aware of the need...to protect their intellectual property." In other words, we need to do more, and learn more to ensure the continued success of our companies.

Growing businesses in today's world will mean looking beyond the U.S. to a global population representing 95% of the world's consumers. But before we go abroad, we have to make sure we've protected our products and services as well as the lifelong effort behind them.

So as we enjoy an annual celebration of all the small businesses that keep America running, it has been nice to hear something unexpected, from two leaders who don't often agree. It's my guess that this won't be the last time we hear about it.

A Very Busy Summer of Travel

1:52 PM June 24, 2013

By Jason Lalak


WIPP is on the road again this week -- hosting a ChallengeHER event with the US Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC and at the WBENC Conference in Minneapolis. 2013 is an incredibly busy travel year and in addition to this week's events, in the next month alone, we will also be hosting events in Denver, Atlanta and New Orleans.

As I sit here at the airport waiting for my flight, I am reminded how lucky WIPP is to have Southwest Airlines as our official travel partner. Having flown many airlines over the years, and having flown Southwest almost exclusively over the past year and a half, I can tell you from experience, beyond their great fares, there are many perks to flying southwest...

--they fly pretty much everywhere, with very flexible schedules.
-- Forgot to book that flight and don't want to get stuck in a middle eat? Southwest's open seating allows you to pick your seat when you get on the plane (you can upgrade to the first boarding group for a small fee when you book your ticket, or just make SURE you check in exactly 24 hours before your flight.)
-- No Baggage fees! This really has been a huge cost saving for WIPP as we can have multiple staff traveling to multiple events at the same time -- those fees add up!
-- No Change fees, when you can hop an earlier or need to delay until a later flight, they make last minute changes easy.
-- Excellent customer service.

Working with Southwest has really made a difference in empowering WIPP's work, and in allowing us to do more, in more places around the country. Well, my flight is boarding so I need to go, but remember to check Southwest next time you need to book travel -- if you are not already a Southwest fan, I think you will be soon! Hope to see you soon.

 

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