N.H. women-owned businesses lead nation in receipts

The increase in the number women-owned businesses in New Hampshire has not been as rapid as in most other parts of the nation, according to a recent report released by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

But the report — based on data collected between 1997 and 2002 – does rank the Granite State first for increase in receipts among women-owned firms during that five-year period.

According to data presented by Dr. Ying Lowrey, senior economist for the Office of Advocacy and author of “Women in Business: A Demographic Review of Women’s Business Ownership,” New Hampshire saw an increase of 3,759 in the number of women-owned businesses between 1997 and 2002, rising from 27,265 to 31,024. The nearly 14 percent increase places New Hampshire 31st among states for growth in women-owned businesses.

But a growth rate in receipts of 37.2 percent, from $3.1 million in 1997 to $4.7 million in 2002, earned New Hampshire the top position in national ranking for receipt growth rate.

The New Hampshire findings indicate there’s room for improvement, said Ellen Fineberg, executive director of the Portsmouth-based Women’s Business Center. But she said the state’s ranking for receipt growth is good news, indicating the women-owned businesses that are operating in the Granite State are doing very well.

“The increase in women-owned businesses for New Hampshire – a state that thinks of itself as an entrepreneurial state – shows we could be doing a lot better,” Fineberg said. “But being ranked No. 1 nationally for receipts for the women-owned businesses we do have shows the potential for this state is incredible.”

While many perceive women-owned businesses to be limited to service and retail operations, Fineberg said, New Hampshire’s female entrepreneurs are involved in a wide variety of ventures. The same appears to be true at the national level, where women-owned businesses include professional, scientific and technical firms as well as health-care and social assistance.

While New Hampshire is a slower-growing region nationally, variables hobbling the growth of women-owned businesses in the local region are the same faced by all entrepreneurs, according to Fineberg — rising home costs, health care and energy.

“It will be difficult to attract and maintain new businesses until some of these factors can be changed.”

Fineberg said she believes a growing minority population also will add to an increase in women-owned businesses in the Granite State, given report findings that the greatest increase in women-owned businesses nationally are among women minority.

Nationally, women owned 6.5 million businesses, accounting for 6.5 percent of the total employment in the United States, according to the SBA report — a 20 percent increase between 1997 and 2002. – TRACIE STONE

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