To read the testimony, visit http://sbc.senate.gov/ and under "Witness Panel 2,"click on Fran Pastore.
To view the video, visit http://sbc.senate.gov/ and click on the "Archived Webcast" - Ms. Pastore's testimony begins at minute 93
Stamford, CT - Fran Pastore, President & CEO of the Women’s Business Development Council testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in Washington DC on June 16 during an Examination of US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Programs to review eliminating inefficiencies, duplications, fraud and abuse in the agency. Ms. Pastore was invited to testify by staff of Senator Mary Landrieu (D) Louisiana, Chair of the Committee. Senator Olympia Snowe (R) Maine is the Ranking Member.
Pastore’s testimony focused on the need for continued funding of the 110 federally funded Women’s Business Centers in the US. WBDC, based in Stamford and serving the entire state of Connecticut is one of those centers. Several weeks ago, the US House of Representatives recommended that the SBA eliminate funding for that specific program.
During her testimony Pastore pleaded with members of the committee on behalf of women entrepreneurs around the country to preserve this program. “My goal is to persuade you and your colleagues on both sides of the aisle that the WBC program, which provides a wide variety of services, including training, counseling and mentoring, is vital to women entrepreneurs of all socio-economic backgrounds - especially minority and low-income women to whom entrepreneurship provides a logical and reachable goal to economic self-reliance.”
Pastore was given 36 hours notice to prepare her testimony and called upon WBDC BOD member Gilda Bonanno, a Stamford-based communication skills expert and professional speaker, for assistance. “Given the quick turnaround required, our focus was to craft a clear and concise message that gave voice to the thousands of entrepreneurs who have benefitted from the Women’s Business Center program,” Bonanno said.
The WBC program, administered by the Office of Women’s Business Ownership provides taxpayers with a good return on investment: For a Federal investment of $36.5 million between FY 2001 to 2003, a total of $500 million in gross business receipts were generated – a 14:1 ratio of business revenues to Federal dollars invested. In addition, these firms generated a total estimated profit of $51.4 million. Members of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation, such as Senator Joe Lieberman, have supported this program since its inception in 1988.
According to the SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development 2010 Impact Report, WBC clients who received 3 or more hours of counseling reported a 47% increase in sales. Businesses that receive assistance from WBCs have significantly higher survival rates than those businesses not receiving similar support. WBCs offer access to all of SBA’s financial programs, which have had a major impact on women-owned micro businesses.
During FY 2009, the SBA backed nearly 10,000 loans worth about $2 billion to women business owners and women entrepreneurs received $26.8 million in investment capital through the SBA’s small business investment companies.
Pastore concluded her remarks with: “Let’s not destroy the hopes and dreams of women entrepreneurs, many from low-income and minority backgrounds, many of whom are single mothers, working multiple minimum wage jobs, who see the dream of entrepreneurship as a game changer. Owning and operating a microenterprise and developing good financial habits empowers these women to achieve their humble goals: a roof over their heads, a secure future for their children, and a way up. Thus, it has a positive impact on their children and their communities because they become active contributors to the American economy as taxpayers and by creating jobs for themselves and others.”
The WBDC, based in Stamford, serves approximately 1200 individuals annually. WBDC helped start 120 new businesses and assisted 240 existing businesses-creating more than 200 jobs in Connecticut in 2010. In May, Governor Malloy supported the program with a grant of $150,000 from The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. This month the City of Stamford eliminated its funding for the WBDC for the first time in a decade.
To learn more about WBDC please visit http://www.ctwbdc.org/
Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com