Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Women are Rising Stars in Business

Kelly Griffin Petrie has been a businesswoman here in the North Country for nearly 20 years.  Kelly is here at her Studio 30 in Saranac Lake.   

Kelly Griffin Petrie has been a businesswoman here in the North Country for nearly 20 years.  Kelly is here at her Studio 30 in Saranac Lake.   

Businesswomen in the Adirondacks

Owning and operating a business is not for the faint of heart. Just consider the difficulties the pandemic presented!  But women in the Adirondacks do not shy from the challenge. Curiously, it wasn’t until  New York Congressman John LaFalce introduced legislation in 1988 that eliminated laws requiring women in some states to have a male relative sign a business loan.  The goal of that law, HR 5050: Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 (“WBOA”) was to aid the success of women business owners.   The law established the National Women’s Business Council to review the status of women-owned businesses nationwide and to develop detailed multi-year plans to assist and promote such businesses.  [1]

Fast forward 35 years.  There are now more than 10 million women owned non-employer (no paid employees) firms, for a share of 41% of all nonemployer businesses in the US.    The US Census also maintains some details about women business ownership. Women Business Ownership in America On the Rise. In FY 22, the Small Business Administration, in its Upstate New York District alone, made 92 traditional loans to woman-owned businesses,  with a total value of $32.3 million.   Katrina Ballard, the Women’s Business Liaison at the SBA office in Syracuse, pointed out that the SBA microloan program is  a good option for women entrepreneurs who are looking for small dollar loans of up to $50,000.  In FY22, the SBA Upstate New York district office made 23 such microloans totaling $468,000 to woman-owned small businesses

For women who are considering starting a business, a good first stop might be contact with the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation  or the Small Business Development Center, a free service for small business owners.  According to Michelle Collins, who is a  Business Advisor for the Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton,  “We are open to providing services to a range of individuals who are at various stages of the process; someone who might just have an idea about a business they would like to start, or those who are already operating a company and would like advice about challenges they have encountered. ”

According to Rachel Karp, Executive Director of the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce,

“The effects of the pandemic created challenges for many small businesses especially for women who are small business owners or in leadership roles.  Women are often the caregivers to their children and family members and therefore had to quickly adapt to the changing needs and regulations of running a business during the pandemic.  All business owners had to change many aspects of how they did business and think creatively to find solutions. .”

Any business person quickly learns that operating a business usually requires  understanding government rules, regulations and licensing requirements. If you add personal and family obligations as well as the unexpected  (such a pandemic!)  access to organizations with staff those who are  knowledgeable and encouraging can make a huge difference.   For an inspiring news article about the support one North Country woman received in a collaborative effort between the AEDC  and the SBA  read  Here’s the Dill: How SBA Microloans helped a North Country company meet growing demand

And as childcare is a common issue for business owners as well as employees, the SBDC is now offering programs to train entrepreneurs to start in-home childcare businesses. SUNY Canton Partners with Area Agencies to Increase Childcare Options – SUNY Canton .

Profiles of Women in Business

It might be easy to make assumptions as to why women become business owners.

Instead, I want to learn what led to owning a business, and how they feel about it?  Beginning in May, I will be writing profiles on some of the women entrepreneurs here in the North Country.   I’ll ask them. How do you cope with the demands, and how do you  balance business responsibilities with a need for a personal life?  Some of my other questions will be, how do they keep what they are doing fresh and who do they turn to when they have a new business problem?  So many questions! See you in May.

Pictured above: Kelly Griffin Petrie has been a businesswoman here in the North Country for nearly 20 years.  Kelly is here at her Studio 30 in Saranac Lake.   


Resources for Women re Small Businesses :  

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Linda Friedman Ramirez is a resident of Saranac Lake. She previously owned an art gallery in St Petersburg, Florida, and appreciates how art is integral to a community. She's contributing these artist profiles on behalf of ArtWorks, of which she is a member.

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