Celebrating Women's History Month: Empowering Economic Development through Women's Achievements

Celebrating Women's History Month: Empowering Economic Development through Women's Achievements Main Photo

25 Mar 2024

Since 1995, U.S. presidents have issued proclamations designating March as Women’s History Month. The month is a time to celebrate and reflect on the contributions of women around the world and recognize the achievements of women in a variety of fields. Here at the Clinton County Port Authority (CCPA), we’re celebrating the women-owned and women-led businesses in our community. From retail and food service, to agriculture and advanced manufacturing, in businesses large and small, these businesses are integral to the economic health of Clinton County.

The Legacy of Women in Business

Women are critical to the economies of communities nationwide. Women’s History Month serves as a reminder of many pioneering women who broke barriers and continue to advocate for and stand up against inequality in the workforce. From Madame C.J. Walker, America’s first female self-made millionaire, to Oprah Winfrey, who was raised in poverty to become one of the world’s most recognized women in entertainment and media, women continue to power through to the top. Their stories are not just tales of personal success but show the potential of women to drive economic development and transformation.

The Impact of Women-Owned Businesses on the Economy and the Workforce

Women-owned businesses are a growing force in the global economy, contributing significantly to job creation and GDP. According to Wells Fargo’s 2024 Impact of Women-Owned Businesses study, in 2023, 14 million women-owned businesses (39.1 percent of U.S. firms) employed 12.2 million people (9.2 percent of the workforce) and generated $2.7 trillion in revenue (5.8 percent of total national firm revenue). Between 2019 and 2023, the number of women-owned businesses increased at nearly double the rate of those owned by men. And from 2022 to 2023, the growth rate increased 4.5 times that of men’s. The employment rate of women-owned businesses grew 3.5 times that of men between 2019 and 2023 and nearly five times that from 2022 to 2023. These numbers show that women quickly adapted to the pandemic-era business demands in various ways, like shifting to online sales, adding new services (like virtual consultations, events, and courses), and partnering with other businesses.

Challenges Unique to Women-Owned Businesses

Though women-owned businesses continue to grow and thrive, they still face unique barriers. In addition to social and familial challenges, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce identifies capital, confidence, and market saturation as three significant barriers to women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. In fact, according to a Bankrate study, 66 percent of women entrepreneurs report difficulty in securing the funding they need to start or run their businesses. In 2022, female founders received only 2.1 percent of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups. Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from governments, organizations, and communities to create a more level playing field.

Clinton County Port Authority, State of Ohio Support Women-Owned Business Development

To address the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, CCPA is proud to offer a variety of funding opportunities, free resources, and business development support. Additionally, the State of Ohio offers a variety of programs and loan opportunities for women-owned businesses.

The Ohio Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) program supports women-owned businesses in securing contracts across various sectors, supporting growth and competitiveness in the marketplace. To qualify, businesses must be majority (51%) women-owned, operational for over a year, and owned by a U.S. citizen and Ohio resident. Benefits include access to contracts, free accounting, business development training, networking, and mentoring. Additionally, WBE-certified businesses can apply for loans ranging from $45,000 to $500,000 to support expansion and operations, available at market or below-market rates.

The JobsOhio Inclusion Grant provides grants of up to $50,000 to support the growth of small businesses that face unique challenges because they are either located in a distressed area, or are at least 51% owned by an underrepresented population, which includes minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities. Grants are awarded based on several project factors like company location, ownership, jobs created, and fixed asset investment.

Through the expertise of the staff and its partnership with the Ohio SBDC at Miami Regionals, the Clinton County Port Authority is always happy to help business owners - small or large, women-owned or otherwise - with their expansion efforts.

Moving Forward Together

Women continue to grow their share of the business world, launching companies, moving into leadership roles, and expanding into more industries. It is proven that closing the disparities between women- and men-owned businesses grows the economy. Women’s History Month isn’t just about celebration but about working together to create environments that recognize the economic contributions of women-owned businesses. Through awareness, education, and action, we can build a community where success is driven by the talent and dedication of all our citizens.

Grow With Us!

Clinton County Port Authority is the first stop for businesses looking to expand into Clinton County and local businesses seeking to grow. Established in 2004, the Port Authority was then designated as the economic development organization for Clinton County in 2019 and all county development efforts are now concentrated through it. Contact Clinton County Port Authority for more information! Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

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