Women-Led Businesses on the Rise in N.H.
Concord — There was only one problem 28 years ago when Pam Sullivan wanted to launch her own marketing company in Boston.
As a female sole proprietor, she had trouble securing a loan. With help from the Small Business Development Center, she put together a business plan and secured the money that helped launch a new career.
These sorts of problems are much rarer nowadays, she said.
“I got one of the first bank loans given to a woman in Massachusetts. That’s how far things have come since then,” said Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Creative, an event and brand marketing company that has seen huge growth since moving from Boston to Concord in 2011.
“Women didn’t become creative directors then,” Sullivan said. “Most women who had made it at the time might as well have been men because they had to be to get where they were.”
Sullivan, of Dunbarton, N.H., is one of the faces in a growing women-owned business sector in the state, according to the fifth annual State of the Women-Owned Businesses report commission by American Express OPEN. The comprehensive report released Wednesday looks at data included in the U.S. Census Bureau’s quinquennial businesses censuses from 1997, 2002 and 2007.
New Hampshire has an estimated 40,700 women-owned businesses, a 49 percent increase over the roughly 27,000 the state had in 1997, according to the report. These businesses had about 38,900 employees last year, compared to about 34,000 in 1997.
“If you are fortunate enough to own your own business and have it be your passion, you can connect with what you love,” said Sullivan, who recently opened a satellite office in Littlefield, N.H. After several years of about 10 percent growth, the company is on track to grow 25 percent from this year to next, she said.
The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce has recognized this growth, Executive Director Tim Sink said, “particularly in retail, public relations and hospitality,” he said.
Nationally, the number of women-owned businesses has increased 74 percent since 1997, according to the report. Sales figures for women-owned businesses in New Hampshire reached nearly $8 billion, more than double the total in 1997.
“It’s extremely encouraging to see,” said Tonya Rochette, vice-president and partner at Human Resource Partners, which has offices in Concord and Dover. “I’m hoping we see even more.”
While the number of women-owned businesses has grown, it ranked 33rd in growth over the past 18 years and 26th in the growth in sales totals between 1997 and 2015.
“What I’d attribute the growth to is there are quite a large amount of resources, things like the Small Business Association, groups that are very willing to extend their help,” she said. “And perhaps more women are willing to ask and accept the help.”
Rochette had worked in human resources for more than a decade when downsizing at her previous job left her considering her options. She eventually linked up with Delise West, founder and owner at Human Resource Partners. “We started exploring a potential partnership,” she said. They joined forces, and the company has thrived.