US House passes Rep. Davids’ bill to increase funding for businesswomen

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Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act with bipartisan support.

Why is this important: Sponsored by Rep. Sharice Davids, the bill would increase funding for 150 women’s business centers across the country, including a Kansas City organization based in Overland Park.

The details: Two years ago, Congress passed the Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act with unanimous bipartisan support.

Now Davids, along with New York Rep. Claudia Tenney, reintroduced the legislation earlier this year in hopes of ensuring women business owners have the tools they need to succeed.

The legislation reauthorizes the Women’s Business Center program for four years, while increasing the federal funds it is authorized to spend from $18 million a year to $31.5 million. It would also increase the centers’ individual grant cap for the first time since the program began.

In addition, the bill also establishes an accreditation program operated by the Association of Small Business Development Centers to provide services at each center.

Local call: In January, Davids met with Kansas City businesswomen to discuss the challenges women entrepreneurs face and how the legislation she introduced could help.

These are the stories Davids heard in that meeting that she brought up during her speech on the floor last Tuesday.

During her speech, Davids mentioned the story of local entrepreneur Lenora Payne, who started Technology Group Solutions in Lenexa 15 years ago with help from the Kansas City Women’s Business Center.

Payne now oversees more than 80 employees in more than three states, according to Davids.

“When Lenora started her business, the center helped fill those gaps, paving the way for her to grow what is now a multi-million dollar business,” Davids said.

Key quote: “We are a small team at the Kansas City Women’s Business Center, but we serve a strong and vibrant community of entrepreneurs,” said Sherry Turner, executive director of the Kansas City Women’s Business Center. “We are thrilled to see this bipartisan bill move forward and welcome the opportunity to reach more women across Kansas and boost our entire local economy.”

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