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CR Non-Profits Join Forces For Women

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) Friday was move-in day for two Corridor nonprofits in the Alliant Tower in downtown Cedar Rapids. It was the start of a partnership between the Iowa Womens Leadership Conference, the IWLC, and Ascent, a group focused on helping develop female entrepreneurs. Theyll share offices on the towers 21st floor.

The masterminds behind the partnership, Diane Ramsey, the Executive Director of the IWLC, and Lydia Brown, the President and CEO of Ascent, were happily hanging pictures and showing off their new office space during the big move.

While Ramsey could get lost in the view outside her brand new office which showcases the Cedar River, the Tree of Five Seasons and the downtown skyline, she was more excited about the blank canvas inside.

"I love it, I absolutely love it!" Ramsey said.

The women were coming together with the goal of making a difference for all women in Iowa.

We have, in the past five years, actually lost revenue and lost employees at our women owned businesses in the state, and we need to do something about that, Brown explained.

Right now, Iowa ranks 51st in the nation when it comes to female entrepreneurs, but the women are hoping their office will play a big role in getting the state out of last place.

"We are sort of serving as a catalyst for people to make changes in their lives, Ramsey said.

They'll look for ways to partner and leverage their skills to bring women into leadership roles with a goal of workforce parity in Iowa.

Part of the challenge really becomes in allowing women to know that this is an option, Brown said of entrepreneurship.

And even as Brown hammered away at the wall, decorating, Ramsey explained that they both hope one day those pictures will come down for good.

My end goal is that we become unneeded," Ramsey said.

The women plan to begin focus based research in December to help determine why there aren't more women entrepreneurs in Iowa. They hope to take that research and start turning the trend around.

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