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GSA Recognized for Women's Business Advocacy

GSA #9454

December 10, 1997
Contact: Mary Rudbeck
(202) 501-1231


WASHINGTON, DC. -- The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced today that its Office of Enterprise Development is the winner of the 1997 North Star Award for excellence and leadership in economic development programs that serve women business owners. The award is sponsored by the National Association of Women's Business Advocates (NAWBA) and Entrepreneur Magazine.

GSA received the national award and was recognized for its efforts to enhance federal government contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses. Awards were also made at the state and local program levels.

GSA's Women's Business Program sponsors and facilitates activities throughout the country to increase awareness of government contracting opportunities among women business owners. Activities include forums, seminars, conferences, roundtables, networking sessions, open houses, and individual counseling. They enable women business owners to meet key contracting personnel and learn about the federal procurement process, successful marketing strategies, and both prime contract and subcontracting opportunities.

"We are honored that NAWBA and Entrepreneur Magazine have chosen our office to receive this prestigious award," said Dietra Ford, GSA's Associate Administrator for Enterprise Development. "We are proud of our achievements in providing Federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses, as well as all small and minority-owned firms, and are extremely pleased to see our efforts recognized by others."

In 1996 GSA awarded a total of $222 million in contracts to 8,079 women-owned businesses. The Office of Enterprise Development has increasingly focused on introducing opportunities for women-owned firms in such nontraditional areas as construction management and other building-related areas and in the field of information technology. The office also has been instrumental in changing Government procurement practices and rules to make it easier for small businesses to compete.

In announcing the award, NAWBA President Kate Hoelscher said that programs like those of GSA's Office of Enterprise Development "embody the spirit and purpose of NAWBA -- communication, collaboration, and coordination. There are many barriers we still must overcome," said Hoelscher. "But we know there will be a positive impact on the growth of women's business if we work together to deliver the best product, the best training and the best information to this increasingly critical segment of our economy."

Rieva Lesonsky, editorial director of Entrepreneur Magazine, pointed out that one-third of the nation's business owners are women and that these businesses have created 50 percent of all new U.S. jobs in the last three years. "Entrepreneur Magazine," she said, "is delighted to join NAWBA in honoring outstanding efforts to support this fast-growing segment of our economy."

"We hope that receipt of this prestigious award will send a clear message that the Office of Enterprise Development provides access to GSA, access to opportunity, and access to success," added Ms. Ford.