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Lt. Governor Barnes joins in on women small business discussion in Eau Claire

Eau Claire (WQOW) — Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes was in town Saturday, to learn more about a local organization helping female entrepreneurs reach their goals.

Barnes joined several small business owners at Red’s Mercantile in Eau Claire, to hear from them about what it means to be a woman who owns a small business, and how the Red Letter Grant has connected and impacted them.

The Red Letter Grant provides female entrepreneurs, across Western Wisconsin, with start-up capitol and a network to succeed. Officials behind the grant hope it can grow to offer support statewide.

“You see a big gap, not just in leadership, but in mentorship and role models, so you don’t really see women always at the helm,” said Rebecca Cooke, board president of the Red Letter Grant. “I think there’s a lot of value having women, both in leadership and as entrepreneurs in our state.”

Cooke hopes Barnes grasped the importance of elevating women-owned businesses across the state, and helps bring attention to the challenges they face compared to their male counterparts.

“This is another issue of equity. I think women own about 31 percent of businesses in the state, that was a fact that was brought up in this meeting, and [I] believe that women are 50 percent of the population, so we have to do a little better job of making sure, again, that the support is there,” said Barnes.

The importance of supporting local businesses was echoed during the discussion.

If you’d like to support the Red Letter Grant, or you own a small business and want to apply, you can find more information here

Samantha Wensel

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