DEADWOOD, S.D. — The South Dakota CEO West Women’s Business Summit made a return Tuesday after a three-year hiatus. This year’s conference brought business and government leaders and small-business owners to Deadwood for a day of networking and learning.
The SD CEO West Women’s Business Center is based at Black Hills State University, where empowered women empower women in their business ventures by providing training, assistance and even networking opportunities.
“The women here are those that are invested and committed to being successful business owners or business entrepreneurs,” said Aikta Marcoulier, the Region VIII Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Marcoulier spent a decade working for a small business development center in Colorado before joining the SBA to continue that work on a larger scale.
“There’s so much you can learn and change, you know, [so much] that is constantly changing for the small business world,” Marcoulier said. “The Small Business Administration programs help with that. The SBA is just as innovative as our entrepreneurs, as we like to say.”
While the pandemic shuttered some businesses, the SBA says the rebound is noticeable.
“Actually, small business applications for new small businesses is at record highs right now,” said Jennifer Kim, the associate administrator at the Office of Field Operations for the SBA. “It’s actually higher now than it was before the pandemic. And honestly, I think a lot of that is being driven by women.”
Despite the unique struggles women business owners face, Kim says events like this help them realize all the available – as well as free – resources for them to use.
SD CEO West’s reach includes a “Women in Leadership” class, which teaches effective strategies in an environment tailored to women’s unique challenges.
“Women are amazing,” said Rebecca Lureen, a 2020 graduate of the program. “We are all built different. What it allowed me to do was to accept myself for who I am and how I am, and to understand how to be better at my profession.”
“When you’re in a room like this of strong women, there is so much to learn,” Marcoulier added.
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