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January 06. 2013 7:27PM

SNHU's women business center to host forum on money

MANCHESTER - After almost a year in operation, the Center for Women's Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University will present its first major event on Thursday, the Women and Money Forum.

"This is basically our coming out party," said Tammy Hastings, administrative assistant for the center, based at Madison House on the SNHU campus.

The center hosted a grand opening in February, and has offered workshops, one-on-one counseling and other services to women in business throughout the year, but the upcoming forum is by far its most ambitious undertaking to date.

Funded by SNHU with a matching grant from the Small Business Administration, the center emerged from the ashes of what was the Women's Business Center, which closed in the summer of 2010 after 15 years of operation through SBA funding at offices in Portsmouth.

Membership was declining and the organization was viewed as another nonprofit victim of the recession, according to an article in the New Hampshire Business Review at the time.

Within less than a year, plans were under way for a successor organization, based at SNHU, with MaryAnn Manoogian as executive director. Manoogian, a former manager in the nonprofit sector, had served as director of the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning under Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. The school applied for and received a five-year, $719,000 matching grant from the SBA.

Unlike its predecessor, which was a standalone SBA-funded organization, the new version benefits from its affiliation with the university and the resources it can provide.

Women in business need the attention of an organization dedicated to their interests for several reasons, said Manoogian, one of them being the need to increase the number of women-owned businesses in the state.

She cited a study by the Women's Fund of New Hampshire suggesting that fewer than 26 percent of small businesses in the state are owned by women, compared to states like Maryland, where the figure is closer to 33 percent.

In 2009 there were 26.8 million small businesses in the U.S., and approximately 30 percent were owned by women, according to the SBA, so New Hampshire is behind the national average.

"We're 50 percent of the population in the state and are vastly underrepresented when it comes to owning a small business," she said.

The focus of Thursday's forum will be on women business owners and budding entrepreneurs, and helping them take control of their finances and their future, said Hastings, who staffs the center along with Manoogian and Program Manager Susan Terzakis.

Thursday's event is a collaborative effort that also involves the New Hampshire State Treasurer's Office and the SBA, with funding from the Citizens Bank Foundation.

Workshops include How to Develop and Manage a Budget, Understanding Your Profit & Loss Statement, Wage & Hour Mistakes of Small Businesses, and Understanding Your Personal Financial Statements.

"Ninety-five percent of women are either making or influencing the big financial decisions in their households, yet 86 percent have a lack of understanding of financial products," said Manoogian. "This forum will give access to the experts and provide the information that women business professionals need to resolve financial issues in the office and at home."

Presenters will include lawyers, bankers, financial advisors, government officials, educators and business owners.

The forum runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at SNHU's Robert Frost Hall. Registration is $50 for CWBA members, $75 for non-members, at www.cwbanh.com/womenandmoneyforum.

dsolomon@unionleader.com



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