Women-owned businesses are on the rise across the country — but there’s always room for even more growth.
A recent study by the U.S. Census Bureau shows one in five businesses in the country are women-owned businesses. Augusta ranks pretty high in that study, checking in at number 19 out of 100 cities nationwide. About 21.9 percent of Augusta’s businesses are owned by women, totaling nearly 1,800 businesses.
Nancy Powell, an Augusta University alumna, is one of those women.
Powell is the owner of Powell & Associates Inc., a local real estate agency, and said a lot of credit for her business goes to the generation before her as they broke down doors that empowered women business owners.
Powell cites her mother Marcene as an example of that. Not only did she start the first real estate brokerage firm in Lincolnton, Georgia, but it was also the first woman-owned business in the town.
“Politics and history had always fascinated me,” said Powell.
She took a break from real estate and got into politics for seven years. Powell worked on David Perdue’s U.S. Senate campaign and Rick Allen’s House campaign as well as other local and regional races.
After deciding that campaigning was “a younger person’s job,” as she described it, she got back into real estate and took over her mom’s business in 2020, relocating the hub of Powell & Associates to Augusta. It was the challenge she was ready for.
“I’m not a nervous or apprehensive person anyway — I’m kind of a risk taker,” Powell said. “I had been thinking about it for several months and then when I called my mom to talk about it, she also had been thinking about it. So that kind of gave me the confirmation that this was meant to be.”
“I’m not a nervous or apprehensive person anyway – I’m kind of a risk taker,” Powell said. “I had been thinking about it for several months and then when I called my mom to talk about it, she also had been thinking about it. So that kind of gave me the confirmation that this was meant to be.”
She was prepared for the move since she had been studying the Augusta real estate market and was comfortable expanding the business.
Powell is also very active in ventures outside of real estate. She’s a member of both the Ambassador Board and Women in Business Board with the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, president of the Augusta University Alumni Society-Summerville, a member of the Women in Philanthropy of the CSRA and a Cor Vitae member with the American Heart Association. She also participates in mentorship programs.
“The Women in Business Board does luncheons every month and bring topics that are geared toward women and the challenges they face in the workplace, including life balance and things like that. They offer a lot of support and information as well. I go back to the generation before me. They fought really hard to make it easier on me and generations that are younger than me.”
Powell has done a good deal of mentoring and has women call her looking for advice. She sees plenty of value in that.
“As long as we keep those lines of communications open, from generation to generation, and keep on pushing the envelope and making sure that we’re taking notice, I think the number of women-owned businesses will rise and it will probably surpass the men.”
While she hasn’t run into a lot of them lately, Powell did indicate some of the “old boy networks” still exist, but not as much as a generation ago. She thinks men have figured out that women need to be taken seriously — and may even out-work them in the long run.
The near 1,800 women-owned businesses in Augusta employ almost 12,000 people. While those are impressive numbers, Powell said more can be done. She thinks Georgia can do a lot more to support women-owned businesses through grants and other investments.