Queens congresswoman’s legislation seeks to help women-owned businesses by reintroducing defunct federal agency

Photo credit: Common Sense Leadership

A Queens lawmaker wants to give women entrepreneurs the support they need to succeed by reviving a defunct federal agency.

On Oct. 23, Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise (ICWBE), which the government established in 1979. The ICWBE would be responsible for coordinating federal resources to assist in the growth and success of women-owned businesses.

The ICWBE led several federal agencies to develop policies to help women-owned businesses, but it became inactive in 2000.

According to the Federal Register, each department in the Executive Branch had the responsibility to aid these businesses in “management, technical, financial and procurement assistance, as well as business-related education, training, counseling, information dissemination, and procurement.”

Reviving the ICWBE would empower the agency to examine how other federal agencies support, expand and strengthen resources and programs for women-owned businesses.

“Getting the ICWBE back to functioning status would help increase the ability of the federal government to provide targeted assistance to women entrepreneurs so they can achieve their business goals,” said Meng. “Helping women business owners is vital to ensuring a strong economy and creating jobs, and my bill would make sure they have access to critical government tools that help them start, grow, and sustain their business enterprises. I urge all my colleagues to support this legislation.”

Andrea Ormeño, the director of the Women’s Business Center at the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), penned a letter in support of bringing back the ICWBE. In the letter, Ormeño emphasized the importance of helping women, especially those with low to moderate incomes, minorities and immigrants.

“Small business is the economic engine of Queens County, with over 45,000 businesses that have fewer than five employees,” said Ormeño. “These companies need support and education in order to succeed. By passing Congresswoman Meng’s bill, women-owned businesses will be the beneficiary of targeted assistance that can only result in business growth, added employment and economic development in our community.”

According to the American Express 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, women in the United States started an average of 1,821 new businesses a day between 2017 and 2018. The report also showed that women of color owned 47 percent of all women-owned businesses.

Meng’s legislation has moved to the House Small Business Committee. View the measure here.

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