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Celebrating the Second-Annual National Women-Owned Business Day

Created to celebrate women entrepreneurs, the day is an opportunity to highlight strong female leadership across Cincinnati’s business community.

In 2022, Sally On!—a local, women-owned marketing firm dedicated to helping women-empowering brands—founded the first National Women-Owned Business Day (#WomenOwnedBizDay) through the National Archives. Now in its second year, the annual celebration (the day falls on the first Thursday of every October) presents a powerful opportunity to highlight women-owned businesses as well as celebrate strong female leadership in our workforce. We also take this day to explore and celebrate local programs and organizations dedicated to training and empowering our women leaders of tomorrow.

National Women-Owned Business Day recognizes the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to accessing funding, capital and resources for these operations to scale and grow. To that end, the day was conceived as a day of action, encouraging everyone to:

  • Buy from and invest in women-owned businesses today and throughout the year.
  • Spotlight and uplift women entrepreneurs and brands.
  • Encourage someone to start their own business.
  • Connect a woman-owned business owner with other people, businesses and resources to help them succeed.
  • Share and amplify your favorite women-owned brands with others.

As evidenced by the day’s creators, Morgan Hamilton and Aris Taylor, our region benefits from a wealth of women entrepreneurs, business leaders and support resources.

The Cincinnati Region’s History with Women-Owned Businesses Began in 1880

As we look to build a stronger future for women-owned businesses, it’s important to understand our past. Cincinnati has a glowing example of the lasting impact that can be provided by a woman-owned business. Our rich history in supporting women-owned businesses dates back to the 1880s when Maria Longworth-Nichols founded the first large, woman-owned manufacturing business in the United States, Rookwood Pottery. The company is still thriving here today and is part of our booming manufacturing sector.

Women-Owned Businesses Contribute to Cincinnati’s Thrilling Future

So why should we set aside a day to focus on women-owned businesses? Of course, with REDI’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, it certainly speaks to our organization’s core values to highlight, empower and enable women and minority groups operating in our local economy. When everyone has an opportunity to participate in the vibrancy of Cincinnati’s economy, our region only gains in strength.

Beyond these values, though, supporting women-owned businesses is just exciting and makes our region a more thrilling place to live and work. Women-owned businesses do so much of the work happening regionally, including (to name just a few) Journey Steel, Inc.; Pure Romance; Nationwide Logistics; Scooter Media; Stand Energy Corporation; Foodies Vegan LTD; Fern; PMC Smart Solutions; TrueChoicePack; Dean’s Mediterranean Imports; and many more.

When we support women-owned businesses today and every day of the year, we get to experience first-hand some truly exciting work being done locally.

And beyond the economic success of women-owned businesses, supporting these organizations betters our community in more than just economic ways. One shining example is the Journeys Soaring Impact program, Journey Steel’s owner Barb Smith’s non-profit ironwork apprenticeship program, which introduces low-income, inner-city high schoolers to career opportunities in the field of ironworking. In addition to providing the skills for and pathway into a union job in a dominantly older, white and male field, the Journeys Soaring Impact program teaches financial skills that enable future trade workers to thrive and contribute to the growth of their communities.

Celebrating Women Across the Regional Economy

National Women-Owned Business Day is a unique opportunity to celebrate women leading businesses locally. And we believe it’s also a great time to recognize the growing role of women in our local workforce.

Locally, we’ve seen the presence of women in the workforce grow by 7 percent between the years of 2010 and 2021. The national average for this statistic is 11 percent, but looking at the regional growth of women in executive positions within the same time period we see that our regional growth is a tremendous 98 percent (compared to a national average of 68 percent).

This local female presence in the C-suite includes Amy Spiller of Duke Energy; Deborah Hayes of The Christ Hospital Network; Candace McGraw of CVG Airport; Jennifer Davis of Procter and Gamble Health Care; Laura Brunner of The Port; Julie Calvert of Visit Cincy; Julie Kirkpatrick of Meet NKY; Elizabeth Mangan of Miller Valentine; Katie Blackburn of the Cincinnati Bengals and, of course, REDI Cincinnati’s CEO Kimm Lauterbach to name just a few.

Support the Organizations Supporting Women Leaders

On this Women-Owned Business Day, we also want to recognize local organizations that work to support women leaders of today and empower the economic leaders of tomorrow. Our region is lucky to give home to a wide array of organizations and programs working toward a strong, diverse Cincinnati economy.

The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Center, for starters, provides a number of programs designed to educate and empower women business leaders in Cincinnati. The WE Lead 10-month leadership development program empowers high-achieving women by focusing on the whole person in pursuit of goals and aspirations. WE Ascend is another Chamber program that empowers, prepares and positions local BIPOC women to move into leadership positions in both their organizations and communities. And the WE Speak speaker series seeks to inspire and empower women through an interactive forum where distinguished women leaders connect and share.

Other regional programs doing important work include the MORTAR Entrepreneurship Academy, a fifteen-week course designed for those who are starting or growing their businesses. MORTAR has helped numerous women and minority businesses launch successful independent businesses, including Susan Coach’s, just-opened, Hoity Toity Donuts in Walnut Hills. The Lightship Foundation, too, invests in women professionals locally through a free program focused on helping underrepresented entrepreneurs build their dreams and connect with funding. And the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation works tirelessly in numerous ways to identify and address employment barriers affecting working women and their families.

Finally, as monetary investment is often key to business success, we here at REDI Cincinnati are proud to facilitate funding the success of women-owned businesses, too, via JobsOhio Small Business Grant, which supports businesses owned by members of underrepresented populations.

On this second-annual Women-Owned Business Day, we here at REDI Cincinnati celebrate our region’s professional women and all they do to strengthen our local economy.