Enterprise week pays tribute to women — and minority — business owners.
Monday marked the beginning of Kansas’s Minority Enterprise Development Week, an annual celebration of the contributions being made by the state’s minority and women business leaders.
I applaud those organizations that have created new business opportunities for Kansas women and minorities, especially those from western Kansas currently being recognized by the department of commerce.
These businesses include Mendoze Trucking of Ensign, Pho Hoa 1 Restaurant of Garden City, Grant County Economic Development of Ulysses, and Charisma of Ulysses.
Unfortunately, this week also sheds light on the fact that minority — and women-owned businesses continue to struggle. While women make up more than 50 percent of the Kansas population, there are currently fewer than 60,000 female-owned businesses in our state. Even fewer have a person of color at the helm – just 14,000 Kansas businesses are owned by a minority.
Both women and minorities also continue to trail in wages earned. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kansas women earn only 75 cents for every $1 earned by their male counterparts. Hispanic women earn 86 cents for every dollar earned by a man of the same race, while African-American women earn just 85 cents compared to African-American men.
To help eliminate this gap and make it easier for women and minorities to succeed in the business world, the Kansas Legislature in 1975 established the Office of Minority and Women Business Development.
Now in its 26th year, the office provides information and referrals to current and potential business owners. It also partners with other business advocates to host business education workshops and seminars, and to help local entrepreneurs stay in contact through the Kansas Minority and Women Owned Business Directory which can be found at www.ksdot.org/divadmin/civilrights/.
Eligible businesses may also receive certification through The Kansas Statewide Certification Program as a Minority Business Enterprise or a Women Business Enterprise. This free service helps women and minority business owners procure contracts and subcontracts from government and private entities.
I encourage anyone interested in business ownership to contact both the Office of Minority and Women Business Development and The Kansas Statewide Certification Program to see what resources are available.
By sharing our resources and celebrating our successes, we can make sure that more Kansas women and minorities succeed in the business world.
Sen. Janis Lee,