By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Hundreds of local businesswomen will celebrate the first anniversary of the Greater Cincinnati Women's Chamber of Commerce Friday.
The event at the Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center will run all day, with success stories from around the country and a panel discussion by local women business leaders.
IF YOU GO
What: "Women Mean Business," first anniversary celebration of the Greater Cincinnati Women's Chamber of Commerce
Where: Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center, 525 Elm St., downtown
When: Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $69 for women's chamber members, $80 for non-members
To register or more information: Visit Web site or call 362-2724
Rhoda Thompson, founder and president of the chamber, said the day will be about opportunities.
"When Cincinnati gets it, I believe there's going to be a ripple effect across the country," Thompson said.
The event comes as record numbers of women-owned companies are appearing, both here and across the nation. But those companies continue to fight the same issues of access to money and affordable health insurance.
Locally, the development of women-owned businesses continues to trail other cities, ranking No. 41 among the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas in the number, employment and sales of women-owned firms. Overall, there are more than 34,000 such firms in Greater Cincinnati - including sole proprietorships - up 9 percent from 1997, according to the Center for Women's Business Research.
So far, the women's chamber in Cincinnati has signed up about 185 members, most of them individuals or owners of sole proprietorships.
Nancy Heffner Donovan, owner of Ames Travel Service downtown, said there are many more resources available than there were two decades ago.
"I don't feel like such a lone ranger anymore," Donovan said. She said that after she bought Ames in 1983, one of her first moves was to join the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, where she now is a trustee. That provided networking chances that she wouldn't have gotten other places.
"It's been very helpful to the growth of my business," she said.
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