Woman-Owned Businesses - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Woman-Owned Businesses

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If you are a woman looking to own a business, you might have better luck in North Dakota.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports, since 1997 the number of female owned and operated companies nearly doubled in the peace garden state.

Bonnie Campo talked to two women who took the risk to invest in their own futures.

According to an American Express Business Report nearly 21,000 North Dakota women are estimated to be at the top of the business food chain as of 2014. That's up from 12,400 in the late 90's, but what caused the sudden change? For one Minot woman it was having the guts and a simple opportunity.

(Pam Karpenko, Owner Clean Tech) "I was looking for something that was not just a job. I was looking for a challenge, something that was interesting, that would inspire me to grow and to learn and to change and to be better." "I just plugged my nose, closed my eyes, and jumped in and ten years later I am a master water restorer, and a master fire restorer."

Karpenko says being courageous is an individual trait that's not gender related. But, some of her other characteristics, like compassion and hands on involvement, can sometimes come easier from women.

"Women do business a little bit differently in how we think, and what my priority is here is really taking care of people, and service, and making a difference."

Just a few towns away in Velva, another business Pioneer and her 7 staff members are making a vastly different, but tasty way of living, even if it was unexpected.

(Dorothy Henke, Owner Dots Pretzels) "I retired from finances and I was just going to help out at the farm, and I don't know, we thought why not try. It engulfs you, it is right now. It is engulfing my life, but a good engulfing."

Henke got the idea when she disapproved of pretzels served at a wedding she attended. From conception to innovation, it's not been easy work. In fact, everyday production means baking 720 lbs. of those little sticks before it's time to clock out.

(Dorothy Henke, Owner Dots Pretzels) "Especially because we want to keep growing so that we can keep more employees, get more employees, expand. it's long days but it's still good yet."

Dots pretzels are now distributed in 9 states to more than 600 stores. That adds to the total progress made women here in North Dakota. However, many of them running the show say they don't expect special treatment. They have jobs to do, and just want to be treated as anyone else.

"I believe in an equal playing field. So. for me I wanted to do business because I am a good business person. The fact that while we are women owned, we really do business the same as anybody else does business."

For KX News I'm Bonnie Campo.

Women now employee 58 percent more workers than they did back in 1997, and their sales power has also increased by 175 percent in time.

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