Government, Corporations and Women Businesses to Meet to Find Solutions to Hampered Growth - Opportunities for Technology Innovation discussed as a Growth Strategy

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Set for July 14, at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, the Washington WBE Economic Summit, produced by Astra Women’s Business Alliance (Astra), brings together women-owned businesses, corporate supplier diversity professionals, and representatives from government agencies, such as the U.S. Navy, to find solutions to the obstacles hampering the growth of Washington women-owned businesses.

Set for July 14, at The Museum of Flight in Seattle, the Washington WBE Economic Summit, produced by Astra Women’s Business Alliance (Astra), brings together women-owned businesses, corporate supplier diversity professionals, and representatives from government agencies, such as the U.S. Navy, to find solutions to the obstacles hampering the growth of Washington women-owned businesses.

“According to the U.S. Census, less than one-third of businesses in Washington are majority-owned by women,” says Diane McClelland, Astra President and CEO. “Yet the estimated 175,700 women-owned businesses provide more than 150,000 jobs and generate more than $27 billion in revenue, contributing to the state’s tax base. Even during the economic downturn, women business enterprises helped to moderate the recession by offering business and job growth.”

The U.S. government and many of the largest American corporations recognize the benefits of diversifying supply chains by offering more contracts – either as prime, or Tier II-level contractors – to women-owned firms.

“As impressive as the statistics are, the fact remains that a group that makes up half the population represents far less than half of the businesses operating in Washington, or for that matter, the U.S.,” states Fernando Hernandez, Astra board chair and Director Supplier Diversity, Global Procurement Group, at Microsoft.

Enacted in January 2013, a provision of the Small Business Act known as the Women-Owned Small Business Program (WOSB) statutorily established a 5% government-wide contracting goal. “While there are some agencies exceeding the national goal, the overall government is awarding only about three percent of contracts to women businesses,” stated McClelland. “Access to corporate and government contracts is one of the fastest ways to grow a woman-owned business.”

“There remain significant obstacles to women achieving economic equality and business growth, including the corporate trend to consolidate vendor relationships, limiting opportunities for smaller companies,” says Hernandez. “Relatively few publically-traded corporations have diversity procurement goals for their supply chains even though supplier diversity has proven to be a profitable undertaking and enables large firms to be more nimble, innovative and responsive to diverse customer groups, leading to competitive advantage.”

The Billion Dollar Roundtable was created in 2001 to recognize and celebrate corporations that achieved spending of at least $1 billion with minority- and woman-owned suppliers. Currently, 20 of the world’s largest corporations have achieved this level of spend, including Astra members AT&T, Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft.

The July 14 economic summit will identify obstacles from the supply and demand side of the procurement process, including panels addressing “How to Be Successful in Earning Business from Major Companies” and “Corporate and Government Perspectives: Future Demands and Expectations of Suppliers.” Solutions will be discussed in a round table format. Panelist from the International Game Development Association, CB Technologies, Inc., and Microsoft talk about “Future Opportunities for Technology Innovation.” The summit closes with a celebration of multi-cultural entertainment.

The Washington WBE Economic Summit is sponsored by Hunter Hawk Inc., Private Eyes Inc., TransPak, and ALOM, all Astra-certified women-owned businesses.

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Founded in 1996 by Diane McClelland , President/CEO, and Suzanne Lackman, Vice President/CFO, Astra Woman’s Business Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and a regional partner of WBENC (Women Business Enterprise National Council) providing certification of women-owned business enterprises (WBEs). Astra believes WBEs will change the world in a profound way, leading to global economic growth. Astra fuels economic development and job creation by championing women business owners and providing tools to grow their companies through public and private contracts and skill-building, as well as by cultivating the next generation of female entrepreneurs. Astra provides WBENC and WOSB (Women Owned Small Business) certification to qualified women-owned businesses in Alaska, Northern California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

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Diane McClelland
ASTRA
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