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ABOUT the list — Entrepreneurs Forge Ahead in Age of Acceptance

Operating a female-owned business in San Diego is evolving just like the economy. Last year, the National Organization of Women Business Owners ranked San Diego as the ninth fastest-growing market in the nation for women-owned businesses.

New business opportunities, and expansion opportunities for existing businesses, are plentiful in San Diego and women are taking advantage of it, said Sue Hodges, outgoing president for the local chapter of NOWBO. Aligning with the local trend of start-ups, women have opened their share of new telecommunication and biotech-related businesses, she said.

This week, the San Diego Business Journal’s List ranks the Largest Area Women-Owned Businesses according to 1999 revenues.

– Female Entrepreneurs

Make Steady Progress

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s most recent statistics, those from 1992, recorded 36 percent of all local businesses as female owned. Since then, Hodges’ organization estimated female entrepreneurs opened more than 30,000 businesses in San Diego and overall they currently employ 571,900 San Diego County employees.

The No. 1 woman-owned business on The List is Evans Hotels. Revenue has doubled to more than $54 million since CEO Anne Evans took charge of the family business in 1984. The hotel and property management company wholly owns the Catamaran Resort Hotel, The Lodge at Torrey Pines and 100 mixed acres on Newport Bay in Newport Beach.

Evans headed a household with five kids while her husband, Bill, ran the business. That was until Bill died. Losing “the family father” was only one of her problems. Suddenly she owned the family business.

“You’re faced with losing your line of credit or the company losing credibility” because it has a new owner, she said. In the hotel’s case it was with its landlord, the city of San Diego. Evans Hotels holds several commercial leases on Mission Bay. “It was quite an intense period and, as you can imagine, a painful period.”

– Challenges Turned

Into Success Story

Today, Evans Hotels employs more than 1,200, owns three hotels, an office building, a shopping center and one marina. Evans said she’s sure the glass ceiling does exist, but in her view it is dissipating.

“I think women business owners have , essentially , the same challenges and opportunities as other business owners,” she said. “I’m sure it was not always like that, but we had the benefit of stepping into an ongoing business , that is entirely different than a start-up business.”

When Evans retires, potential replacements include her son and four daughters.

Nora Jaeschke, president of N.N. Jaeschke, Inc., No. 9 this week, started her business after her Rancho Bernardo employer fired her and the three employees directly beneath her. Their male employer lost his only other contract in Oceanside and “obviously didn’t need” her or her employees.

While they were still employed at their old company, Evans promised them all “the righteous rewards” associated with hard work. Shortly after being laid off, they reminded her of her promise. With old clients calling and a crew ready to work, she decided to try her hand at business, at least for a while. That was 1971.

Last year, the management and accounting firm for property owners made over $9 million in revenue. N.N. Jaeschke, Inc. offers janitorial, maintenance and landscaping services as well and employs 248 full-time employees.

– Businesswomen

Gained Acceptance

Being a female business owner now is easier than it was, she said. Years ago a bank invited her to a function and sat her with the wives of the other attendees.

“With all due respect, I wasn’t particularly interested in what they were saying,” she said. “I was more interested in what was being said in the business arena. That’s why I was there.”

That, Jaeschke said, was what it was like. People would be grouped together at business events by sex instead of ability and that, she added, is what has changed. Now, she said, it’s commonplace for women to attend CEO-only round-table discussion groups.

“I mean, how do you improve your golf game? How do you improve whatever it is you’re doing? You talk to people that are doing the same thing,” she said.

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