Connecting Women to Power Initiative

Women are the fastest growing population of business owners in our economic demography and the vitality and variety of new business endeavors they bring to the marketplace are key to our economic success as a community, a state, and a nation. When we were a manufacturing economy, women brought diversity, skills, and labor in great numbers to make us the greatest manufacturing nation in the 20th Century. Now, as we evolve into an entrepreneur driven, global economic nation, it will continue to be the diversity of women that will make us a full partner with the nations who are vital to our economic future.

As we begin to see economic recovery taking place in large business enterprises, in the State of California and across the nation, it is inevitable that small businesses will also begin to recover, stabilize and grow. It is important that elected officials enact legislation that ensures that national and state government business development agencies demonstrate that the time of economic recovery has begun for professional women and women-owned businesses.

The free, "Connecting Women to Power," business conferences were specifically designed for business owners, business professionals, and community leaders. The purpose of this initiative is to contribute to the revitalization of California's economy by empowering and inspiring women to pursue success and prosperity in the global economy.

Two such events have already been conducted. The first was in 2010 and the second in March 2011. We will continue these events annually, going forward. We began by hosting over 375 women entrepreneurs at the "Connecting Women to Power" business pre-conference on Thursday, June 24, 2010, at the prestigious American Jewish University in Bel Air. The Mistress of Ceremonies, Ms. Beverly White of KNBC News, eloquently introduced one power player after another including Betty T. Yee, former Chairwoman of the Board of Equalization, Madelyn Alfano, President Elect of National Association of Women Business Owners, Gary Toebben, President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and the Keynote Speaker, Renee Radcliff Sinclair, Northwest Regional Director of Congressional and Public Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The first panel, which discussed international matchmaking and maximizing opportunities, included Mr. Martin Selander, a specialist on international trade with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Julie Anne Hennessy, Director, U.S. Commercial Services U.S. Department of Commerce, Marianne Hughes, Business Development Officer, Export-Import Bank of the United States, Judyth Kay Gilbert, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, outreach coordinator for Minority & Women Business Owners, Vonny Abbott, Business Tax Specialist, and Sally Phetteplace, Supervising Tax Auditor, both with the Board of Equalization. Their presentations allowed attendees to learn the how to invest in other countries, expand over-seas, engage in importing or exporting, and establish joint ventures with foreign-based businesses seeking U.S. partners.

The speakers of the second panel, who were equally powerful in the world of international trade, included business development experts from the embassies of Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa, Korea, and Germany. They offered strategies and techniques for doing business in international markets and the global economy while inviting the conference participants to expand their businesses into their respective countries. Also present at the conference were representatives of the California Department of General Services, which administers billions of dollars in state contracts and the Employment Development Department, which oversees state job training and job placement services.

On March 30, 2011, we hosted our inaugural Connecting Women to Power Conference at California State University Dominguez Hills during Women's History month.

The focus of the conference was; doing business with the federal, state, and local governments, gaining access to capital, minimizing business tax burdens, accessing stimulus dollars, and strategies and techniques for growing your business. It also provided a greater opportunity to network with local business owners and build key alliances, while getting the latest information on industry trends.

Vice Chair of the Board of Equalization, Michelle Steel, along with California Educational Solutions and the National Association of Women Business Owners, partnered in this successful conference with over 900 in attendance. Keynote speakers included Maria Marin, Motivational Speaker, as well as Rosario Marin, the 41st U. S. Treasurer and the first Latina to be selected for this position.

Representatives from nonprofit organizations and local, state, and federal agencies were available to assist attendees. Topics included presentations and panels on contracting opportunities, accessing traditional and non-traditional capital, working with the Board of Equalization and other tax agencies, leveraging technology to enhance success, understanding state, local, and federal stimulus programs, wealth management and financial planning, expanding overseas and contracting with foreign countries, and mastering the always challenging, work-life balance.

If you would like to view our public service announcement for this event, please click here. You may also view our invitation, list of sponsors and directions by clicking here. The BOE also offers easy to use, convenient, 24-hour accessible online seminars on a variety of tax and fee topics. They may be viewed by clicking here.

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