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SMALL BUSINESS: S.D. on Itinerary for Small Biz “Whistle Stop” Tour

S.D. on Itinerary for Small Biz ‘Whistle Stop’ Tour

Women-Owned Firms Growing at Twice the Rate of Other Companies

Small Business by Lee Zion

San Diego will be part of a 20-city whistle-stop tour of the country when the National Federation of Independent Business comes to town.

The NFIB, a Washington, D.C.-based business advocacy group, created the “Back on Track America” tour. The train trip, which began Nov. 15 in New York City, has been moving across the country to call attention to the importance of small business, said Jack Faris, president and chief executive officer of the NFIB.

America’s small businesses generate about 60 percent of all the nation’s jobs, he said.

The tour will carry NFIB members and others to each city, where they will join with local small business organizations, public officials, civic groups, retired executives and small business owners and employees in a series of free public events.

Jane Applegate, spokeswoman for Back on Track America, said the event was sparked by the current economic environment, which shows how mutually dependent small businesses are on each other.

“Businesses in every community are being affected by the economic downturn. That’s why Back On Track America is bringing together a cross section of big and small companies, organizations and business leaders to find real solutions to common problems,” she said.

Programs in every city include panels, roundtable discussions and one-on-one sessions on issues important to small business. Each day’s activities will feature a “town meeting” between local business leaders and elected officials with small business owners, Faris said.

The nationwide tour will make three stops in California , in Palo Alto on Jan. 14, Los Angeles on Jan. 16, and San Diego on Jan. 18.

The San Diego event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wyndham San Diego at Emerald Plaza in the Downtown area. To register for this free event, simply bring business cards, Faris said.

For more information, visit the Web site at (www.backontrackamerica.com).

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Looking Ahead, Looking Up: In 2002, the number of women-owned businesses will continue to grow at twice the rate of all U.S. firms, while those businesses will show significantly greater increases in employment and revenues.

That’s according to two reports from the Center for Women’s Business Research. Between 1997 and 2002, the center estimates that the number of majority-owned, privately held women-owned firms will have grown by 14 percent to 6.2 million. That compares to 7 percent growth nationwide.

During this period, sales generated by women-owned firms increased by 40 percent nationwide, nearing $1.15 trillion. These firms will employ nearly 9.2 million workers in 2002, up 30 percent from 1997, the studies said.

That’s a growth rate that is 1 & #733; times the national average, according to Mary Schnack, spokeswoman for the center.

The studies, “Women-Owned Businesses in 2002: Trends in the U.S. and 50 States” and “Women-Owned Businesses in 2002: Trends in the Top 50 Metropolitan Areas,” analyze both published and unpublished data provided by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, she said.

Sales and employment for women-owned firms are increasing faster than the overall growth rate in all 50 states, according to the studies. This shows how women-owned firms have a growing impact on the nation, Schnack said.

The studies also say women are continuing to diversify into non-traditional industries. The greatest growth in the number of women-owned firms is seen in construction, at 36 percent. Behind that is agricultural services, at 27 percent; transportation, communications and public utilities, at 24 percent; and finance, insurance and real estate, at 14 percent, the studies said.

Sales for women-owned firms in agricultural services increased by more than 100 percent, while sales in construction increased by 94 percent. Employment in these two industries increased by 74.8 percent and 69.9 percent, respectively, according to the studies.

The largest share of women-owned firms remains in the service sector, at 53 percent, or 3.3 million. This includes business services, engineering services, and professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants.

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Step Out in Style in Booties! A new San Diego boutique promises the height of fashion “for the hip, spoiled baby.”

The store, called baby m boutique, is on Adams Avenue in Kensington. The shop offers unusually luxurious clothing for infants and toddlers, with such exotic fabrics as ultra-suede, pashmina, faux fur and hemp.

All outfits are machine-washable, said store owner Christy Hansmeyer.

Hansmeyer opened up the store in November after about two years of making “little itty bitty sewn must-haves” for specialty baby boutiques throughout the United States. Her clothes are for boys and girls, sizes 0 through 5, she said.

Hansmeyer was inspired to get into the business as a new mother. Feeling a baby’s clothes should be as hip and cool-looking as the mother’s, she set about creating baby clothes that would be fun and functional, she said.

The store also carries gift and accessories, Hansmeyer said.

The next small business and retail column will be Jan. 7. Call (858) 277-6359, Ext. 112 or e-mail lzion@sdbj.com by Dec. 28.

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