At the U.S. Department of Commerce, Women’s History Month is an opportunity to highlight the strength, tenacity, and determination of women in American society. It is also a time to honor women entrepreneurs and their contributions to the American economy and to encourage the next generation of women leaders to participate fully in the economic opportunities available to build a more equitable, inclusive and diverse economy. that works for all Americans.

According to Census BureauWomen-owned businesses made up just 19.9% ​​of all businesses that employed people in the United States in 2018, and only 6.5% of those businesses were in the manufacturing sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruption to the US economy and many small business employers have been hit hard in all parts of the country.

Through programs available through Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) businesses have been able to access the working capital and surge financing they need to keep operating and keep their employees on board.

The United States Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency exclusively dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority-owned businesses. MBDA’s programs, services and initiatives aim to help minority-owned businesses grow and prepare to meet the industry needs of tomorrow.

MBDA Native American, Alaska Native, Hawaiian Native (AIANNH) supports the growth of tribal and indigenous businesses. The project is proud to support and work in partnership with Tamarah Begay, founder and principal responsible for Indigenous Design Studio + Architecture (IDS+A).

Tamarah Begay founded IDS+A in 2012 as the first Navajo woman-owned architecture firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was inspired to focus on serving Native American and Indigenous communities to provide culturally unique, sustainable and innovative designs. His designs are attractive and embrace the natural environment while preserving history and culture. IDS+A uses a collaborative process to create designs with clients. The process brings a unique assimilation of ideas and creativity. The individual identity of each community determines the plan of the project, its physical form and its contextual response to the environment.

Four Winds Diversified Project (FWD) MBDA Business Center located in New Mexico worked with Ms. Begay to obtain Small Business Administration 8(a) certification and Women Owned Program certification. Ms. Begay and the FWD MBDA Business Center continue to work together to seek business opportunities. Federal, state, local and tribal partnerships through referrals.

IDS+A has expanded its footprint to encompass successful projects throughout Albuquerque and the Southwest to include state and federally funded projects. Ms. Begay is a member of the Navajo Nation and has over 15 years of experience working with Native American tribes on public safety, justice, education, housing projects and gaming. Recent work with the Navajo Nation has focused on feasibility studies and general planning. She brings her extensive expertise in cultural sensitivity to strengthen the design of projects with Native American and Indigenous communities.

“This month, we pause to remember and celebrate the courage, ingenuity and perseverance of the women who are helping to make our world and our country a better place,” said MBDA Acting Country Director Miguel Estién. . “The Minority Business Development Agency’s mission, programs and services demonstrate our commitment to supporting the needs and dreams of women entrepreneurs of color today and for generations to come. »

Trade US Economic Development Administration (EDA) is the only federal government agency focused exclusively on economic development, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) plays a critical role in facilitating regional economic development efforts in communities across the country.

The EDA provides Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) grants to establish Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) which provide loans to businesses that cannot otherwise obtain traditional bank financing. These loans provide access to capital in the form of start-up financing to enable small businesses to grow and create new job opportunities with competitive wages and benefits.

Karen Primak, CEO of IPAK, Inc. a full-service packaging and fulfillment company providing inventory management, warehousing and supply chain services to Fortune 1000 companies and state and federal governments. IPAK, Inc. operates two facilities in Camden, New Jersey that ship products worldwide.

Ever since she had a small lemonade stand when she was little, Ms. Primak has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a dream of starting her own business. The launch of IPAK allowed him to build a company that shares the same spirit and to give its employees the opportunity to develop their potential. Of its 100 employees, 68% are women, 73% identify as people of color and 55% reside in economically disadvantaged Camden.

“As a HUBZone certified company, we are committed to hiring in underserved communities. Leading an organization that understands you need to meet people where they are and encourage learning and achievement has been incredibly rewarding and wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t started IPAK,” said Ms. Primak.

Throughout the pandemic, Ms. Primak has managed to keep all her staff on board, institute new protocols to keep them safe and keep her doors open for business.

However, due to the pandemic, the company saw its income decrease and so it decided to contact the Cooperative Business Aid Society (CBAC), an administrator of the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) funded by the EDA to apply for a loan.

“I was introduced to CBAC by one of their other clients and knew they were legit because they were certified CDFI and a member of an organization that I respect, the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce. We had an amazing experience working with them. They went through the loan process quickly, even though they were very busy, and it was in the middle of the pandemic,” she recalls.

EDA’s RFL program helps businesses by capitalizing on local investment programs that provide complementary financing to small businesses. In September 2020 EDA received a $2.7 million grant from the CARES Act to the CBDC to capitalize and administer an RLF that will provide loans to businesses affected by the coronavirus in the town of Camden; Atlantic, Cape May, New Jersey.

“Their investment came at a critical time for IPAK, given declining revenues due to the pandemic and our priority on retaining our workforce. The funds were used for working capital,” Ms. Primak said.

Thanks to the CBDC loan, IPAK, Inc. has continued to persevere through the pandemic, keep its business running, and not let go of a single employee.

“I am honored to be part of an organization that is playing a vital role in helping Americans recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” said U.S. Commerce Undersecretary for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo. “Women’s History Month is an opportunity to shine a light on women’s contributions to the American economy and to support women entrepreneurs who are on a mission to uplift underserved communities, so that their dreams also come true.”

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