May 29, 2002 11:00 pm
‘I think it will be useful if the only thing we do is get together to talk.'– Judy Starr ().
‘I think it will be useful if the only thing we do is get together to talk.'– Judy Starr ().

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

"I was surprised when I first came to La Grande and saw that there were a lot of women business owners," said Judy Starr earlier this week.

Starr, who owns Kneads bakery with her daughter, Leah Starr, now sees the women as a group that can come together for a common purpose.

To that end, she has called a meeting for 7 a.m. June 19 at Foley Station of anyone interested in forming a women's alliance.

"I've called some women who might be interested and I've gotten about a dozen who say they will come to the meeting," Starr said.

She had tried to get some women together a few weeks ago but found the time she had selected — the afternoon — did not suit the schedule of most. Morning will be better, she found out.

"Only five showed up. The others said they had other commitments or interests in the afternoon," Starr said.

"We don't have any plans or goals at the moment. That's the purpose of the meeting. We will discuss if we want just to get together, perhaps monthly, to just talk about our interests or if we want to take on any projects," Starr said.

"I think it will be useful if the only thing we do is get together to talk."

Starr said she had delivered fliers about the meeting to about 45 businesses that have a woman owner or partner.

She said that in Oregon, one in three businesses is owned by a woman.

"That was a surprise to a lot of people I have talked to," Starr said.

Starr wants to call the group "Women Business Owners Alliance."

"I looked up the word ‘alliance' before I decided on it to make sure it means what I thought it did. And it did. It means a merger of interests or efforts."

Starr doubts there will be any dues structure unless the group decides to take on a large project.

For the moment, the women involved so far are interested in selecting a sign design to use during Crazy Days. They could also map some plans for observing the Women in Business event in October, she said.

Starr said the group could seek grants for projects if that is what the group wants to do.

"I would like to explore getting grants, but this will be among the decisions the group will explore when we meet," Starr said.

Kelly McGee, who owns Marie Josephine's, is another person promoting formation of the group.

"I think we need an organization of women so we can have a communal feeling." She would not be in favor of charging dues, she said. Merchants are already hit hard enough, she said.

Starr said those interested in attending the meeting should RSVP to her by June 15 if they have not already done so. Her phone at the bakery is 963-5413 and at home, it's 663-1544.