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North Dakota Women's Business Center Receives Top Honors


Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, today announced the 2016 National Small Business Week awardees for 17 different categories ranging from exporting, outreach, contracting, lending, disaster recovery to manufacturing and research and development.

In the category of SBA Resource Partners, the North Dakota Women’s Business Center (operated by Center for Technology & Business) has been recognized as the 2016 Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award winner.

“Our team has worked hard to create collaborative opportunities for entrepreneurs across the state that are fresh, innovative, bold, and in demand. This recognition is both humbling and motivating. We are proud of the growth and economic impact the center has sparked, and look forward to continuing to find unique and impactful ways to serve the current and future entrepreneurs of North Dakota," shared Deb Eslinger, Executive Director of Center for Technology & Business. 

North Dakota has indeed been a leader in fostering a climate of growth for women owned businesses. The 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, listed North Dakota as the top state for the fastest growth in the number, employment and revenues of women-owned firms. Since 1997 North Dakota has experienced an 89.3% growth in number of women-owned firms, a 234.7% increase in revenues from women-owned firms and a 77.3% growth in employment by women-owned firms. 

The WBC Center of Excellence award nomination was supported in part by one of those new and steadily growing businesses. Shelley Holmes, a Partner at Bison Compost, LLP in Leeds, ND noted in her recommendation letter: “The ND WBC team members are incredible advocates of women’s entrepreneurship and small business in general. A ‘Can Do’ attitude permeates their offices – and words of encouragement, support and inspiration are plentiful. Each and every time I have interacted with Deb and the ND WBC team, I have felt the unique power of having them in our corner, as champions of Bison Compost, LLP as it grows as a viable business endeavor and develops its product line and markets.”

A key factor in the North Dakota Women’s Business Center’s selection for the award was identified as their ability to develop and implement innovative programming to benefit entrepreneurs across the state. “The center has developed some very innovative programing that is spot-on with both the present needs of women to start new businesses to supplement family income, and balanced it with future needs to scale those businesses that make it, all the while strengthening our states growing appetite for women in leadership roles,” explained Kari Warberg Block, founder and CEO of Earthkind, a North Dakota based business that received startup assistance from the North Dakota Women’s Business Center in its early days. Warberg Block has since grown her business to a $40 million dollar brand and become a leading advocate for women entrepreneurs. She added, “As a member of the National Women’s Business Council, I feel that the quality of leadership I see in the ND Women’s Business Center is rare and deserves to be recognized, celebrated, and duplicated into other states.”

Each year since 1963, the president has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. As part of this celebration, North Dakota Women’s Business Center staff will join the other category awardees in Washington, D.C. to participate in events and ceremonies on May 1-2.   

Center for Technology & Business (CTB) builds North Dakota’s economic future by fostering an entrepreneurial environment through innovation, technology, training, leadership and business development.