WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today addressed attendees of the Shreveport Women's Entrepreneurship Symposium in Honor of Women's History Month. The symposium, hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in collaboration with Sen. Landrieu, focused on women entrepreneurs, innovation and the importance of intellectual property to business.

According to the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), 7.8 million firms were owned by women in 2007, accounting for almost 30 percent of all non-farm, privately held U.S. firms. Women-owned firms had total receipts of $1.2 trillion that year, and firms with paid employees employed 7.6 million workers.

“This two-day event recognizes the many pioneering women who have built our great nation,” Sen. Landrieu said. “It is also an opportunity for inventors and entrepreneurs – both men and women – to network, discuss best practices, and hopefully spark some new innovations. This symposium would not have been possible without the generosity and hard work of Mayor Glover and the City of Shreveport.

“Throughout history, women have come together to make significant contributions to improve our society and spur our economy. These women entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, inventors, and teachers looked to the needs of their families and communities, and through their unique perspective made positive changes for us all. As mothers and daughters, women have helped to make the U.S. economy more innovative by inventing out of necessity in many cases.”

Following her speech, Sen. Landrieu met with Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover to discuss economic development issues in the area.

The symposium offered networking opportunities with experts in the intellectual property field as well as government and industry representatives. Topics covered during the symposium included state and local resources for entrepreneurs, using patents and trademarks as tools to increase business growth and revenues, taking a product to market, and how to use social media to advance the success of innovations.

Additional speakers included the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, Teresa Stanek Rea, as well as experts in intellectual property law and successful entrepreneurs.

Last year, Sen. Landrieu worked with Sens. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to help pass the America Invents Act. This law reformed the nation’s patent system and brought much-needed funding back to USPTO. In particular, this bill reduced the application fees for small business patents by 50 percent.

Sen. Landrieu is currently leading her committee in hosting a series of roundtables to discuss start-ups and economic growth. These discussions bring together a wide variety of experts who are leading the way in creating entrepreneurial ecosystems. Ultimately, through these discussions, Sen. Landrieu will identify specific ideas and recommendations to be included in a comprehensive piece of legislation.