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SBA, women's business group combine efforts

November 26, 2000

SBA, women's business group combine efforts



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The federal Small Business Administration has joined forces with women business owners in the Eastern Panhandle.

The two groups want to communicate and exchange information and ideas to help more women take advantage of opportunities to own their own businesses.

The SBA and the Professional Business Women's Association of Martinsburg recently signed a memorandum of understanding at a ceremony at Progressive Printing, co-owned by Laura Matthews.

The SBA will provide technical and business assistance, access to loans and other financial help as women take on business ownership.

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"Women are starting businesses faster than any other segment" in the economy, said Michael Murray, director of the West Virginia District Office of SBA.

The PBWA has about 120 members after starting with 13 in 1994, said Christinia Lundberg, program manager of the Small Business Development Center at Shepherd College and one of the founding members of PBWA.

"What we're seeing in the Eastern Panhandle is people moving from Washington, D.C., who have hit the glass ceiling and are moving here and starting their own businesses," she said.

The two groups did not have to sign a formal agreement to work together, Murray said. But having the agreement signals the importance of the relationship, he said.

The memorandum requires SBA to provide information about the many programs it has available for business and to make itself available to the PBWA as needed.

The women's business group will provide Internet links from its site to SBA sites, make information available to its members about SBA programs and assistance and the encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities and training SBA makes available.

"We're agreeing formally to discuss each others programs," Murray said.

Matthews said the SBA can help women who are starting out. She got a loan designed for women-owned businesses when the printing business began in 1995.

For those starting out "it'll help make the loan process a whole lot easier," she said.

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