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Female business owners in Md. expect sales to grow

July 17, 2011

WASHINGTON — One out of two Maryland women business owners expect their sales to increase in the next six months, but most have no plans to hire full-time employees as a “soft patch” continues to slow the U.S. economic recovery.

The findings of the first-ever PNC Women Business Owners Outlook show that women owners in Maryland and across the nation are satisfied with their overall business performance, as six out of 10 say their companies are currently meeting or exceeding expectations. However, women owners show a reluctance to take on long-term financing or make capital investments in the months ahead.

“Our women’s survey findings reinforce that the U.S. economy continues to suffer through this current soft patch, as growth has slowed into the realm of stalled speed,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist of the PNC Financial Services Group Inc. “Even though we are dialing back our expectations for the second half of 2011, we do not expect the economy to slide into a double-dip recession.”

PNC found that most women owners in Maryland are funding their businesses with credit cards and personal savings in lieu of long-term bank financing. Nearly six out of 10 (61 percent) use a business credit card and almost half (44 percent) rely on personal or family savings to fund their businesses.

“While women business owners often describe themselves as being debt-averse, those who rely strictly on savings and credit cards leave few options to weather downturns without cashing in personal assets or taking a hit to their personal credit history,” said Beth Marcello, director of Women’s Business Development at PNC, which has loaned nearly $7 billion to women-owned businesses since 2005.

According to PNC’s findings, women owners in Maryland rely on an average of 2.6 sources of money to fund their businesses. Additional sources of capital include a line of credit from a financial institution (35 percent), personal credit card (33 percent) and a business loan from a financial institution (21 percent).

Over a recent 10-year period, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. grew by 44 percent, twice as fast as men-owned firms. Over the same period, women-owned firms added 500,000 new jobs. In Maryland, there were 114,066 women-owned businesses at the end of 2008. By the end of 2013, that number is expected to increase to nearly 133,000 — a 16.5 percent increase, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research PNC has developed training programs for its bankers to understand the challenges and opportunities for women in business. As a result, the bank has more than 500 PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocates throughout its retail banking regions.

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