Wear & Away Founder in the CT Post

Wear & Away Founder in the CT Post
Wear & Away founder and Darien resident Laurie Tuck in May 2017, at the Bridgeport facility she is using to produce and sell a line of throw-on robes and clothing that resists staining from spray-on tan ... more

Women-owned businesses ceded economic heft in Connecticut in the past year, according to a new study, though the state again saw an increase in the number of companies created or acquired by female entrepreneurs.

In its annual American Express Open study of women-owned businesses, American Express estimated those companies generated $16.4 billion in combined revenues in Connecticut — off 0.9 percent from 2016 estimates — and employed 200 fewer people for a combined workforce numbering 95,300 employees in all.

American Express extrapolates its estimates based from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners, which is conducted every five years including in 2017. The newest American Express Open report issued Wednesday is based on projections from the 2012 survey.

Over the past two decades, Connecticut has trailed the nation in adding women-owned businesses, with the number growing 54 percent over that period to an estimated 113,100, compared to a 114 percent gain nationally.

Women-owned businesses now account for 39 percent of all U.S. companies, though employing just 8 percent of the private sector workforce and contributing 4 percent of total business revenues.

Fran Pastore has had a ringside seat to the momentum generated by women-owned businesses in Connecticut and nationally during the period covered in the American Express Open study, with Pastore CEO of the Stamford-based Women’s Business Development Council which last month marked its 20th anniversary. At an Oct. 20 luncheon in Greenwich, Pastore was among several speakers calling attention both to the progress women entrepreneurs are making, and the challenges they face.

“Make no mistake about it — this is not a female issue,” Pastore said. “This is a socioeconomic imperative. When a woman can borrow money for income-generating activity, like starting their own business or growing their own business, it has ripple effects throughout our community.

“That said, for women to gain real control over resources and assets, they must also have a voice,” Pastore added. “Women in positions of leadership and our male counterparts have an obligation to help other women and create opportunities for their advancement at all levels of society.”

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