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The new "girl power": women-owned businesses surging in Virginia, nationwide

The new "girl power": women-owned businesses surging in Virginia, nationwide

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The number of businesses owned by women in the U.S. is surging, according to a new report by American Express OPEN.  That's also the case in Virginia, which was ranked in the top ten for women-owned business growth.

Things couldn't be going much better for Monica Rokicki and her Roanoke-based business.

"We're busting at the seams, which is a wonderful place to be," said Rokicki.  "We really had no idea that we'd be at this place less than two years after we launched."

In 2011, she and her business partner started Better Building Works, an energy efficiency and green design consulting firm.  Since then, she's had to hire seven employees -- and is now getting ready to move out of the Roanoke Regional Entrepreneur Center and into her own office space Downtown.

"We just look forward to being able to help more people," said Rokicki.

Her story of success is one that's unfolding across Virginia.  According to a new report from American Express OPEN, the Commonwealth ranked 7th nationally in terms of the growth in and economic clout of women-owned businesses.

Since 1997, there has been a 64 percent increase in the number of women-owned businesses statewide, 103.6 percent growth in their revenues, and a 22.2 percent growth in the number of people they employ.

"I think there is much more being done [in Virginia] to encourage entrepreneurs and to encourage new business starts," said Joyce Waugh, President and CEO of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.  "There is a real energy and encouragement for people to try to make sure they get the kind of help they need to do that."

Rokicki says the Entrepreneur Center was instrumental in getting her business going -- helping her navigate through the process of starting a company and providing her with a small office space where she could get started.  She says with those kinds of building blocks, a solid business plan, and a lot of energy, there is plenty of room in the business world for women to succeed.

"Women are capable of a lot," said Rokicki.  "Even on a construction site, it's brains not brawn -- especially on a construction site because sometimes brawn can get you into a little trouble."

According to the report, there's also been an increase in the number of industries women-owned businesses are breaking into.  53 percent of women-owned businesses are in the healthcare and social assistance fields.


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