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Women-Owned Companies Bloom In NewBo, Czech Village

By Francie Williamson
The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

CEDAR RAPIDS

When Mia Suntken decided to start her own business, she knew exactly where she wanted to locate — the NewBo or Czech Village neighborhoods.

“I live in the area and it’s a great place, with a lot of other attractions and things going on,” said Suntken, owner of the Copper Alligator, 65 16th Ave. SW, which sells vintage clothing and accessories and other eclectic items. “It really was a no-brainer, kind of.”

Several women business owners, such as Suntken, have decided to locate their businesses in Czech Village and NewBo — so many, in fact, that the neighborhood exceeds the state and national average for the percentage of female-owned businesses.

Business ownership by gender

Source: U.S. Census

Jennifer Pruden, executive director for the Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District, said approximately 47 percent of the roughly 150 businesses in the district are owned, co-owned, managed or led by women.

Census statistics from 2007, the most recent available, show that 25 percent of the small businesses in Iowa were women-owned. Nationwide, 28.7 percent of small businesses were owned by women.

“It seems like the area is more approachable or easier for small businesses to get started in, and often those are owned by women,” Pruden said.

Suntken, who operated for six months out of a room in NewBo before opening her store three and a half years ago, said her neighbors have been very supportive.

“Other female business owners, we talk together and we plan things,” she said.

Suntken added that the Main Street district and the Czech Village Association “are here to really help.”

Different challenges

Diane Ramsey, chief executive officer of the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference, said women-owned businesses face a number of different challenges than of male-owned businesses.

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