Celebrating the economic and social contributions of women on a global scale, the Women’s Business Center of Utah and World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah), in partnership with the Emerald Hills Institute, hosted their annual International Women’s Day Celebration on March 5. The event’s theme, “What Women Bring to Our Community,” highlighted successes and obstacles Utah women have experienced while growing their businesses both locally and internationally.
Ana M. Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Field Operations provided the keynote address to the event’s 165 attendees. Guevara oversees approximately 275 trade professionals based in more than 100 U.S. cities, focused on assisting U.S. businesses to export their goods and services to foreign markets. “Companies that women start, own or run tend to be less likely to trade internationally than those owned by men,” said Guevara, identifying creative connections as a solution. “As women become an even larger force in trade and business, the U.S. Commercial Service can be a partner from the outset for any women-led businesses with an exporting objective.”
Within the state, nearly 84,000 women-owned businesses generate $14 billion in revenue. Nationally over the past five years, the annual growth rate in the number of women-owned firms has been more than double that of all businesses. “This is a trend that we are eager to see continue,” said Courtney Smith Rae, International Program Manager for WTC Utah. Rae organizes trade missions on behalf of the state and leads business delegations abroad. “One of WTC Utah’s objectives is to take Utah companies to the world. An increase of women-owned businesses representing the state on an international level would make Utah more competitive, resulting in a win for all of us.”
“Each year, international sales add $5 billion in additional revenues for small businesses in Utah,” said Miles Hansen, president and CEO of WTC Utah. “Through their persistence and ingenuity, many women business leaders are creating prosperity here in Utah and proudly represent our state around the world. WTC Utah is committed to setting aside sufficient resources to ensure that each and every woman-owned business ready to pursue international growth can fully utilize our free services and trade promotion grants. We want to be full partners in catalyzing the next generation of Utah’s business leaders who will follow in the footsteps of the inspirational women we heard from today.”
Following Guevara’s speech, WTC Utah Events Manager Hannah Lowry moderated a panel discussion of local businesswomen including:
- Mary Lamoureux, Senior Director of Customer Service for OOCL, North America Group
- Crystal Low, Executive Vice President of Treasury Management at Zions Bancorporation
- Maxine Turner, Founder of Cuisine Unlimited Catering & Special Events
Each reflecting on their path of success, the panel discussed the opportunities that defined their careers, the resources that proved the most valuable and the advice they would like to share with women in similar positions. This annual event, complete with women-owned business vendors such as Raclette Machine, offers resources and support for women in all stages of their careers.
For the first time, the event was held at women-owned and operated Ember SLC to accommodate an increasing audience size. “Our organization is thrilled to witness the traction this event has gained and growth of community members celebrating International Women’s Day,” said Teresa Bagdasarova, Program Coordinator for the Women’s Business Center of Utah. “It is a day to reflect on the essential role women play in Utah’s overall flourishing economy and thriving community as well as to celebrate the social, economic and cultural accomplishments of women. This was not only a chance to hear from great female forces contributing to our prosperous Utah economy by taking their business to international markets, but a celebration of the achievements and successes of women business owners statewide.”