By Elaine Springer
A walk or a quick drive along Main Street in the Village of Trumansburg provides a window into the economic health of the Village. Most storefronts are occupied, and Trumansburg enjoys business from loyal local shoppers and visitors alike. There are approximately 39 businesses within the Village limits along Main Street, and 19 of them are women-owned. This follows a national trend in the increase in women-owned businesses, which, as reported in the seventh annual American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report in 2017, increased by a whopping 114 percent between 1997-2017.
According to the report, “More than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, employing nearly nine million people, and generating $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017. account for 39 percent of all privately held firms and contribute eight percent of employment and 4.2 percent of revenues.” In addition, as of 2012, the Department of Labor reports, “An additional 2.5 million businesses are owned equally by women and men. These businesses account for an added $189 billion in payroll for 6.5 million workers.” This is the most recent statistic, and surely in 2018, this number has increased.
The Village of Trumansburg Main Street businesses exceed the nearly 39 percent national average of women-owned businesses, edging closer to 50 percent. With that number of the Main Street businesses being women-owned it is fair to say these businesses are vital to the growth and health of the local economy. Here are some statistics provided by the aforementioned American Express Report; while from 2016-2017 revenues from women-owned businesses have only grown 2.5 percent compared to 4.1 percent for all businesses, “The employment growth rate over the past 20 years was stronger for women-owned businesses than for all businesses; 27 percent vs. 13 percent.”
One could speculate that the discrepancy between the number of women-owned businesses and generated revenue is due to the fact that women-owned businesses tend to be smaller in size than businesses opened by men or man/woman partnerships. In addition, women tend to have a greater tendency than men to open businesses that involve ideas or causes they are passionate about or have positive effects on the world. These businesses generate less revenue than men-owned businesses and are less likely to experience large growth and the need or ability to hire many employees.
The American Express report also states that half of all women-owned businesses fall into three categories; other services, which includes businesses such as hair salons and pet care make up 23 percent of businesses; health care and social assistance, which make up 13 percent of businesses; and professional, scientific, and technical services, which make up 12 percent of businesses. Main Street businesses in Trumansburg certainly encompass these and more.
Women-owned businesses are certainly at the forefront of economic growth and stability in the Trumansburg area, particularly in Main Street businesses. But there is still a long road ahead for women-owned businesses both at the local and national level, to maximize their economic impact.
In order to maximize their positive effect on local economies, women-owned businesses need to be able to increase their share of employment and revenues to more closely match their share of total businesses owned. How do women achieve this, and how can we support them in this endeavor? Shopping at women-owned businesses and hiring women for professional services is one way to show support, and is exceptionally vital at the local level. But there must be more done on an institutional level.
If one were to peruse the 2014 Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship 21st Century Barriers to Women’s Entrepreneurship report, it is easy to extrapolate that in spite of making up close to 40 percent of all businesses, women-owned businesses are only receiving roughly 20 percent of conventional small business loans. Of those who apply only 30 percent are approved, often because of the low profitability of women-owned businesses. Another reason for the low approval rate could stem from why a woman is opening or growing a business, which many times is out of necessity.
In addition to lack of access to capital, women-owned businesses face lack of access to business education related to business loans and marketing. According to the Senate Committee study, “Studies find women face challenges getting access to relevant and sufficient specialized business counseling and training, which is important for business growth.” While local banks, especially credit unions, excel at providing business counseling and other services for small businesses, access to government programs such as Women Business Centers and the Small Business Association are lacking, particularly if an entrepreneur does not live in a metropolitan area, where these services are more numerous. While there are plenty of resources readily accessible online, small business owners face long work hours. Time becomes a precious commodity, and there is little of it for things like filling out long business loan applications or business education.
With the support of their local community and greater access to capital and education, women entrepreneurs could become economic powerhouses, driving the economic growth in their communities and their homes. The Trumansburg women-owned Main Street businesses are certainly on the forefront of driving the local economy, and next week we will take a look at those businesses, their offerings, and hear from the owners about how they feel they are contributing to the economic health of our community.
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