SBA takes on women's Web resource

The Small Business Administration has taken over the management of a popularWeb resource for women entrepreneurs that culls information from SBA's nationalnetwork of women's business centers.

The site, the Online Women's Business Center, is now located at www.onlinewbc.gov. SBA took control of the site from the North Texas Women'sBusiness Development Center, which had operated it with grant money fromSBA. It was launched three years ago under former Vice President Al Gore.

The Online Women's Business Center targets women who are the owners or prospectiveowners of small businesses. The center provides resources and advice onhow to write business plans and develop marketing plans, for example. Itscontent is supplied by SBA's network of 93 women's business centers nationwide.

By having the site in-house, SBA will have an easier time keeping its informationand services current, said Harriet Fredman, deputy assistant administratorfor SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership, the office that will runthe site.

"A Web site always has to be exciting," she said. "You have to always addinformation."

SBA has hired a technician whose sole job will be to maintain the site,Fredman said. That person will be involved in posting new information, makingchanges to HTML coding and monitoring the site's discussion areas. The sitehas been redesigned, links are being repaired and interactive features shouldbe available again soon after the transition is finished, Fredman said.

"We hope within a month's time to have the chats and message boards runningagain," she said.

Fredman said the North Texas Women's Business Development Center asked SBAto take over site operations because the center was having trouble raisingmoney to match its $150,000 yearly grant. The center found that sponsorsrarely wanted to extend their support for more than a year or two, she said.The grant provided $150,000 each year for five years.

The Women's Online Business Center receives more than 2 million hits a monthand has been accessed by people in more than 100 countries, according toSBA. It also contributes its popular success story feature to iVillage.com,an online portal for women.

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