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SBA head visits ND entrepeneurs

The administrator of the Small Business Administration is in North Dakota for a few days.

"You (North Dakota) have the lowest unemployment rate around," said Maria Contreras-Sweet. "That's very heartening. So we're here to meet with entrepreneurs to see how they're doing, and to find out what you've learned, so we can take those lessons across the country."

Contreras-Sweet met with some women business owners during a stop in Bismarck. She says one of her goals is to have more women-owned business contracting with the federal government. And she credits Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) with helping make that a reality.

"She helped the SBA get sole-source authority," said Contreras-Sweet. "That allows federal contractors across all federal departments to set-aside certain businesses that they see a woman can be uniquely qualified for, and to give it to her as a sole source."

Heitkamp says she wants to make sure women-owned businesses have access to SBA services.

"Every time you do these events, you learn more about whether people know about the services, and what challenges they've had accessing services," said Heitkamp. "The challenge is to get women to take that first step."

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