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Report indicates Oregon is doing better at supporting women-owned businesses, but there's still room for improvement

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: STEPHANIE BASALYGA - Marilee Hanks, the owner of Portland-based Anderson Krygier Inc., says certification as a woman-owned business has helped her company on its way to reaching more than $1 million in revenue this year. When it comes to encouraging women-owned businesses, Oregon is doing better than it has in the past, but there's still room for improvement.

The state ranked 37th in the country with a 27.8 percent increase in the number of women-owned businesses since 2007, according to the 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report.

In terms of growth of jobs created by women-owned firms since 2007, Oregon ranked 17th in the country. The state's 31.7 percent increase in growth of revenue among women-owned firms placed the state at the 28th spot nationally.

The report also ranked Portland, with a 32.9 percent increase in the number of women-owned businesses since 2007, 39th among 50 U.S. metropolitan cities for growth in women-owned firms.

This is the eighth year American Express has commissioned the report, which is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's Survey of Business Owners as well as relative changes in Gross Domestic Product.

Oregon's position in the lower third of the country for women-owned business growth during the past decade doesn't necessarily mean the state isn't supporting those businesses, according to Geri Stengel, a research consultant for American Express. Instead, she believes the state's ranking is a reflection of a lack of diversity in the state. African-American millennials represent the fastest growing portion of women-owned businesses started last year, according to the report.

COURTESY: GERI STENGEL - Geri Stengel"(African-American millennial women) feel they can do better on their own than working for an employer, so they're starting their own businesses," Stengel said.

Latinas make up the majority of women ages 30 to 40 who are starting their own businesses. Meanwhile, white baby

boomers make up the largest number of women 50 and older who are starting

businesses.

The American Express report reaches a wide range of institutional organizations that provide money to entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. In the past, minority- and women-owned businesses have tended to have a harder time finding funding. But Stengel said the results of this year's study indicate a shift may occur in the future as banks and organizations that provide money for businesses may focus their attention on African-American millennial women.

"I think you're going to see a lot more attention paid to that group going forward when it comes to making financing and capital available to them," Stengel said.

Women and construction

Construction is one of the top three industries that have experienced the largest increase in the number of women-owned businesses since 2007, Stengel said.

She attributes the trend to the fact that state, county and city public agencies have made conscious efforts to encourage women-owned businesses to become certified and include them in contracts for public projects.

Statistics show that certified women-owned business are more than 20 times more likely to hit seven-figure revenues than those that don't obtain certification,

according to Stengel.

"Businesses that get certified are much more likely to become million dollar businesses," she said.

Marilee Hanks' Portland-based landscape architecture and graphic design firm, Anderson Krygier Inc., is proof of that.

A certified woman-owned business that draws a significant amount of its work from public contracts, including federal embassy work, Anderson Krygier is on target to hit more than $1 million in revenue this year, Hanks said.

She attributes her success in large part to a nine-month program in business basics that she took through Portland

Community College. Hanks had experience in landscape architecture when she took over the firm, but she had never run a business. The PCC program helped her build a foundation from which she has been able to grow her business. The firm recently moved from the Pearl District to a building downtown and has grown to 16 employees.

Now that she feels she has a solid grasp on what it takes to run a business, Hank says she's ready to look at how she can start to grow her firm.

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