Women's Business Centers Improvement Act of 2022

Floor Speech

Date: April 26, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. DAVIDS of Kansas. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairwoman Velazquez and our ranking member for all the work they are doing on the House Committee on Small Business.

I rise today to urge my colleagues to stand up for the small business owners in their community and vote for my bill to support the Women's Business Centers.

Women are the engine of our economy. Women-owned businesses employ 9.4 million people nationwide, contributing $1.2 trillion to our economy each year. When we invest in the success of women, we are giving our entire economy a boost.

Women's Business Centers are an effective resource that reach more than 88,000 entrepreneurs each year through training, mentorship, and counseling. In 2020 alone, the WBC program increased its outreach by 22 percent and helped start and sustain more than 30,000 small businesses.

To put it clearly, during the pandemic, they increased their outreach. That is a solid record of success made even more impressive by the commitment to stepping up when they were needed the most.

I have visited with the local Kansas City Women's Business Center in Overland Park. They serve the Kansas City metro area and the entire State of Kansas. I have also spoken with women who have used their services, folks like Lenora, who started Technology Group Solutions 15 years ago with the help of the Kansas City Women's Business Center. She now oversees more than 80 employees in three States.

She told me that she hears from women who don't have the network or access to capital that they need to get their businesses off the ground. She sends them to the WBC because when Lenora first started her business, the center helped fill those gaps, paving the way for her to grow what is now a multimillion-dollar company.

Other women I have spoken with specifically cite the WBC's evening and weekend hours and that they offer childcare during training sessions. It is those tailored services that have made these centers such a crucial contributor to the success of so many businessowners.

My bill, which we are voting on today, will enhance the WBC program to ensure that women entrepreneurs all across the country have access to counseling and training services. I have seen it in action, and it is why I introduced and strongly support this bipartisan piece of legislation.

It would raise the cap on grants for the first time since the program began and create an accreditation system to help establish standards of excellence, ensuring that our funds are being spent wisely to help growing entrepreneurs.

The Kansas City Women's Business Center served more than 800 clients last year. How many more businesses could they grow? How many more aspiring entrepreneurs could they reach with more resources?

I am proud to have introduced this important piece of legislation alongside Congresswoman Tenney, and I urge a ``yes'' vote.