Our view: Put focus on female-owned businesses
The story opened with this line: “Business is booming in North Dakota.”
The piece, published in a November edition of the Herald, noted that oil production has helped position the state ahead of others in several economic categories, but also that “the rising tide has not floated all boats.”
Written by the Forum News Service, it noted the number of women-owned businesses in North Dakota has decreased over the past five years, as well as the revenue brought in by these firms and the number of workers they employ.
In fact, North Dakota ranks last in the country in growth of female entrepreneurship, the story noted.
It’s a marked difference from a similar report from 2017, which declared North Dakota the best state for women entrepreneurs. In fact, the whole region fared well that year, with South Dakota ranked No. 2 and Minnesota No. 4. But apparently, the environment has soured for enterprising businesswomen in North Dakota in the years since.
Perhaps our state’s chief economic drivers, ag and oil, are fields traditionally dominated by men. Or perhaps a lack of capital investment in women-owned ventures makes starting and growing a business much more difficult, while a shortage of supportive networks keeps many aspiring entrepreneurial women from making valuable connections and gaining confidence in their ideas.
That’s why we’re glad to see people like Kodee Furst — featured in the FNS story — working to improve the trend. She and others started Annie Capital in 2018 in an effort to coach female entrepreneurs and also to potentially offer investments.
That’s all the way out in Dickinson, though. It sounds to us the eastern portion of the state needs to find the same kind of enterprising spirit.
Women workers in North Dakota traditionally aren’t on par with their men counterparts. For example, a study by the National Women’s Law Center shows that North Dakota women typically earn 73 cents for every dollar paid to men in the state. That’s almost a dime behind the national average of 82 cents, which is a travesty by itself.
Altogether, these trends tend to show a gap between men and women workers — and entrepreneurs — in the state.
The pay gap must be addressed individually by businesses. As for entrepreneurship, the state needs more “angels” — those with the ability to invest — to help kickstart women’s businesses. It also needs continued work by the region’s universities to focus on women’s entrepreneurship.
A report this month in the Herald last week noted that the University of Minnesota Crookston is putting more focus on entrepreneurship. UND has done so for years.
That’s good, but universities also must focus on ways to specifically help women start, run and maintain businesses in the region.
It will take that kind of commitment to the issue to help round out and embolden efforts to boost all forms of entrepreneurship in the region.