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Duckworth, Heitkamp introduce bill to support women entrepreneurs

U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Heidi Heitkamp, both members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, introduced legislation Monday 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 country, 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 (ICWBE).

“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 Sen. 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.”

The ICWBE was established in 1979 and it helped develop policies to assist women business owners. The Interagency Committee was maintained through both Democratic and Republican administrations, but it has been inactive since 2000 with no chairperson to operate it.

“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. “Sen. Duckworth and I are introducing this commonsense bill to get the ICWBE back up and running to support women in achieving their business goals – as the agency has historically done. Our goal is to make sure that trend only continues.”

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.

In April, Duckworth, Heitkamp, and four other U.S. Senators urged the president to reestablish the ICWBE. Their bill builds on this continued effort to get the Interagency Committee back up and running.

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