By Teya Vitu The Santa Fe New Mexican
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The "Power Up: Changing the Game for Women in Business" conference is designed to celebrate, promote and support women -- both those who own businesses and those who aspire to.
More than 200 women -- and some men -- are expected to converge Wednesday on the Scottish Rite Center as a decades-old local business organization hosts its largest event in history and the first of its kind, a conference intended to embolden female business owners.
"Power Up: Changing the Game for Women in Business", presented by the Santa Fe chapter of the Service Corps of Retired Executives, comes as the nonprofit is reinventing itself with a sharper focus on diversity, organizers said, and as women who own businesses increasingly have become an economic force in the city.
"SCORE is recognizing that women have arrived and are present," said organizer Ellen Reinders.
The conference is designed to celebrate, promote and support women -- both those who own businesses and those who aspire to.
"This conference is not about, 'Women don't know how to run a business,' " said SCORE volunteer and conference organizer Kim White, former owner of a local interior design gallery. "This event is about the amazing success of women in business. We want to share our success with others."
The keynote speaker is Agnes Mura, a Santa Fe-based international master certified coach who works with senior executives, boards, corporation owners and emerging leaders.
New Mexico broadcast journalist Carla Aragón will interview Badass books author Jen Sincero, who lives in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe brand designer and business owner Franziska Neumann, a longtime SCORE client and fellow organizer, will give a talk called "Gaining Visibility." Others scheduled to speak include Sierra Duran, a Taos CPA; Santa Fe financial adviser Dottie Graviet; Santa Fe communications and marketing professional Emilie McIntyre; and the Rev. Marsie Silvestro of Santa Fe.
"It's about confidence and putting yourself out there," said Neumann, who owns FZK Franziska. "Women hesitate with that, traditionally."
"Sometimes you are a little too agreeable and forget what you stand for," added Reinders, who is retired from a corporate job and as the owner of a Pojoaque winery.
Bob Gallatin, chairman of the Santa Fe SCORE chapter, established in 1975, acknowledged that not long ago, the group largely was composed of older men who served as volunteer advisers to local entrepreneurs. Now, he said, 25 percent of the volunteers are women.
And as many as 65 percent of clients seeking guidance from the local SCORE chapter are female entrepreneurs.
Few SCORE chapters across the country have held conferences focused on women, Gallatin said.
Wednesday's event grew out of a 2017 SCORE seminar that volunteer Marcia Swain organized. It was attended by 28 women and one man, she said.
"Everybody was having such a good time and interacting with each other," Swain said. "I asked, 'What would you think if SCORE did a women's networking event?' There was a loud cheer. This is that event."
The rise of businesswomen locally reflects a national trend.
The Women's Business Enterprise National Council has reported that women's business ownership across the U.S. has grown 114 percent in the past 20 years, soaring from 4.6 percent in 1972 to "4 out of every 10 businesses" now.
Albuquerque-based DreamSpring, formerly known as Accion -- which serves entrepreneurs in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Texas -- said 47 percent of its small-business loans in 2019 have gone to women-owned businesses, compared with an average of around 43 percent between 2015 and 2018.
It's unclear, however, exactly how many businesses in Santa Fe and across New Mexico are owned by women.
NerdWallet, a personal finance website, in 2015 ranked Santa Fe as No. 1 out of 289 cities it deemed the Best Places for Women-Owned Businesses. NerdWallet calculated that 33.7 percent of the businesses in Santa Fe were owned by women that year.
Statewide statistics vary from 20 percent to more than 51 percent of business ownership by women.
A November report by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions determined 20.1 percent of businesses in the state are owned by women, calculated from the 2017 Census Bureau Survey of Entrepreneurs.
But telecommunications company Frontier Business crunched numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 Survey of Business Owners -- released in 2016, the most recent available -- and determined 51.7 percent of New Mexico businesses were owned by women, the highest in the nation, just ahead of a Pacific Northwest cluster of Idaho, Washington, Wyoming and Oregon.
Jeffrey Mitchell, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico, is skeptical of that number.
The census survey "has a great level of detail for New Mexico," he said, "but when you get into small groups [women by race/ethnicity], the margins of error get intolerably high."
Brian DuBoff, director of the Santa Fe Small Business Development Center, also was puzzled by the figure. "The 51 percent, I've never heard that," DuBoff said.
But his center's clientele indicates women in Santa Fe have a growing interest in business: Out of more than 150 business owners it has counseled in the past year, about 43 percent of them were women. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.