At Johnson County roundtable, Rep. Davids pushes effort to promote women-owned businesses

Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids met with Kansas City businesswomen Thursday morning to discuss the challenges facing female entrepreneurs and how her recently filed legislation could help. The reauthorization of the Women's Business Centers Improvement Act would increase federal funds it is authorized to spend to $31.5 million for the Women's Business Center program for four years. Photo credit Nikki Lansford.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas met with Kansas City businesswomen Thursday morning to discuss the challenges facing female entrepreneurs and how legislation she filed could help.

Two years ago, Congress passed the Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act with unanimous bipartisan support.

Now, Davids, along with New York Rep. Claudia Tenney, have reintroduced the legislation earlier this month with the hopes of ensuring women business owners have the tools they need to succeed.

The legislation reauthorizes the Women’s Business Center program for four years, while increasing federal funds it is authorized to spend from $18 million annually to $31.5 million. It would also increase the cap on individual center grants for the first time since the program began.

Additionally, the bill also establishes an accreditation program run by the Association of Small Business Development Centers to ensure services at each center.

“My new legislation is designed to give WBCs the resources they need to reach even more potential business owners and continue to cultivate a thriving local economy here in the Kansas Third and nationwide,” Davids said.

The local businesswomen met with Davids at the Kansas City Women’s Business Center at 6405 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park, which serves over 600 clients across Kansas with business training, access to capital programs and more.

At the roundtable event, the women who attended were:

Payne said starting a business can be daunting, especially for women entrepreneurs who do not typically have the network or access to capital that is needed to get off the ground.

“When I was first starting TGS, the Kansas City Women’s Business Center helped fill that gap for me,” she said. “Anything we can do to offer that same opportunity for success to more women business owners in our would be a boon to our entire economy.”

While agreeing with Payne’s statement, Hodge said the funds brought in by this piece of legislation are important in order to help both big and small women-owned businesses overcome those type of challenges.

“It’s been our mission for more than 20 years to reauthorize this program,” Hodge said. “We’re sort of the women behind the women behind the women, and we can continue to be that with this bill.”