Could a correlation be forming between the rising number of women business owners and the awards programs developed to laud them? Hopefully, and why not? Women-owned firms represent the fastest-growing segment of new-business development, data show. And not only are their company numbers growing, but employment and sales are, too. Some groups have responded. Earlier this month, Women Entrepreneurs Inc. toasted four area women in its first-ever WAVE Awards -- an expanded version of its traditional Women Entrepreneur of the Year honor. Now, Bank One has joined Working Women magazine for some nationwide backslapping.
Women entrepreneurs in nine categories will be honored regionally and then nationally in this program, announced this month. Winners will be profiled in a special edition of Working Women magazine. "They have to be a women-owned business, that's the one criteria," said Lisa Antolino, spokeswoman for Bank One in Columbus. "We really want to find the best women-owned businesses in the country," she said. General excellence.
Ms. Antolino said nominations can come from anyone, including company accountants, lawyers, customers or the business owners themselves. "We want everyone to be considered," she said.
Six regional awards programs will take place in early 1999 in Columbus, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. The regional winners will be eligible for the national awards in each category. That reception will be in April in Miami.
Nominations are due Sept. 30, so start your list of local candidates. It shouldn't be a hard roster to fill. Consider this data, which might or might not be news to you:
According to the National Foundation of Women Business Owners (NFWBO), 44,300 women-owned firms operated in the Cincinnati area in 1996, representing 35 percent of all businesses.
And that's a rising number, up 85 percent from 1987, according to NFWBO stats.
Also on the rise: employment and sales. The number of workers at women-owned firms rose 117 percent, to 96,500 in 1996, and sales increased 249 percent, to almost $12 billion.
Nationally, women-owned companies are increasing at twice the rate of all business; minority women-owned firms are growing at triple the rate.
These statistics encouraged Bank One in 1996 to implement its Woman Entrepreneur Initiative, a program that focuses on women business development. Coincidentally, Women Entrepreneurs Inc. honored the lender for the advocacy program at its June 10 WAVE awards.
For a nomination for the Bank One - Working Women program, call (888) 735-6192.
Lisa Biank Fasig covers small-business news for The Enquirer. Call her at 768-8498 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.