The increasing numbers of women and minorities open businesses in Connecticut have become a driving force that deserves some attention.
Increasingly, both private and government organizations are starting new programs and enhancing those in place to give these small business owners added support and resources. The entrepreneurs embrace the support because as little as a decade ago, most women coming into a bank for start-up financing for a business would have departed empty handed unless backed by some very strong collateral.
Most banks have now followed the mid-1998 Bank Boston initiative called People's Bank Women's Business Center and have launched their own programs to provide services female business owners say they need most from a financial institution: access to capital to start or grow their business, a vehicle to get information to help them make business decisions and support with the issues they face as business owners.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has also introduced vehicles to support women and minority owners, such as the SBA Pre-Qualification Loan Program, designed to increase lending to women, minorities and other targeted groups.
State agencies are also establishing new support for women-owned businesses as well. Connecticut's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women established the Women's Economic Development Initiative, for which women, legislators, government leaders and members of the business community meet every six weeks to enhance economic development opportunities for this growing market.
The Commission is also publishing a directory of Connecticut women-owned businesses. In addition, it's now easier for females to get state contracts because of improvements to Connecticut's Minority & Small Contractors' Set-Aside Program. This was established about 25 years ago to assure that Connecticut small businesses have an opportunity to bid on a portion of the state's purchases. Under this program, 25 percent of state-funded purchases are set aside for small businesses. In addition, 25 percent of that amount is reserved for small businesses that are owned by minorities, women and the physically challenged.
So at the end of the day, doing business with minority businesses is good business and we thank you for your support!

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