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Herbert Austin: SBA assisting more female entrepreneurs

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Herbert Austin

It was just 38 years ago when the U.S. Small Business Administration began to dedicate resources and services to improve and increase female entrepreneurs, who now lead some of America's most powerful and lucrative job-creating firms.

The SBA established the Office of Women's Business Ownership in response to a 1979 executive order signed by President Jimmy Carter. Prior to 1979, the term "woman entrepreneur" was rarely used. They called them "sidelines" or "part-time projects."

Today, there are 9.8 million woman-owned firms in the United States that generate $1.4 trillion in receipts. That's more than the annual GDP of Russia, South Korea, Spain or Mexico. Texas has the second-highest number of woman-owned firms with 866,700. Their numbers continue to grow.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth District, which covers 72 counties, women were approved for SBA-backed loans worth $321 million in fiscal 2016 -- an 86 percent increase over the fiscal 2009 loan volume. Nearly 4,210 women were approved for a total of $1.8 billion to start or expand a business in the last eight years.

In 2011, the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program was implemented to expand the number of industries where WOSBs were able to compete for federal contracts. This program enables economically disadvantaged WOSBs to compete for contracts that are set aside in industries where woman-owned small businesses are underrepresented.

Since the WOSB program was implemented, Dallas-Fort Worth woman-owned firms have been awarded $1.8 billion in federal contracts.

Business counseling and training is a huge part of growth. Through its Women's Business Center Program, established in 1988, the SBA was able to serve 2.3 million women nationwide in the last five years. These centers help women entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses. Each provides training in finance, management, marketing and the internet, while offering access to all of the SBA's financial and procurement assistance programs.

Entrepreneurship is not just about making money, but rather building societies that value competition and compassion. And the Dallas-Fort Worth District office is proud to serve the Denton County small business community -- we are here to help you start up, grow and succeed.

For more information on assistance SBA provides women entrepreneurs, visit https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/how-start-business/business-types/women-owned-businesses. You also can contact the Dallas-Fort Worth District at 817-684-5000 for assistance.

HERBERT AUSTIN serves as the U.S. Small Business Administration's Dallas-Fort Worth District director and oversees the agency's programs and services in 72 Texas counties, including Denton, Tarrant and Dallas.