July 09, 2018

Duckworth, Heitkamp Introduce Bill to Support Women Entrepreneurs


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), both members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, introduced legislation to reauthorize a federal agency that helps coordinate federal resources and grow women-owned businesses. There are currently an estimated 11.6 million women-owned businesses operating in the United States, a number that has grown by 45 percent between 2007 and 2016. Duckworth and Heitkamp’s bill would build on this growth by reviving the Interagency Committee for Women’s Business Enterprise.

“We should be doing everything we can to help women-owned businesses grow and create jobs in their communities,” Duckworth said. “I am proud to join Senator Heitkamp in introducing this legislation, which will help level the playing field for female entrepreneurs and business owners by making sure they have access to resources across Federal agencies while making sure the Federal Government shares and implements best practices when working with women-owned businesses so they can expand and further contribute to our economy.”

“Women across North Dakota have started innovative small businesses that help grow our economy, support new ideas, and create American jobs – and we need to encourage more women to take their ideas and make them into reality,” Heitkamp said. “Senator Duckworth and I are introducing this commonsense bill to get the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise back up and running to support women in achieving their business goals – as the agency has historically done. North Dakota women are paving the way for others around the nation, proving that women-owned businesses are growing, leading, and resilient. Our goal is to make sure that trend only continues.”

The ICWBE was established in 1979 and its work was critical to the efforts of several federal agencies and departments to develop policies to assist women business owners. The Interagency Committee was maintained through both Democratic and Republican administrations, but unfortunately it has been inactive since 2000 with no chairperson to operate it. The efforts to better coordinate federal resources are critical to make sure that women business owners and entrepreneurs receive the assistance they need to help start and grow their business enterprise. The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) has led federal efforts to support women business owners and entrepreneurs, however the Council is not authorized to coordinate federal resources which is why reestablishing the Interagency Committee is needed.

Duckworth and Heitkamp’s bill would amend Title IV of the Women’s Business Ownership Act to reauthorize the Interagency Committee by making sure a Chairperson is at the helm to operate the Committee. Getting the Interagency Committee back to a functioning status would help increase the ability of the federal government to provide targeted assistance to women entrepreneurs as they seek to grow their businesses. It would also update the agencies and departments it would help coordinate to make sure all resources are being used effectively, and make sure the Interagency Committee works to carry out its mission to support and encourage women owned businesses.

In April, Duckworth, Heitkamp, and four other U.S. Senators urged the President to reestablish the Interagency Committee for Women’s Business Enterprise. Their bill builds on this continued effort to get the Interagency Committee back up and running.