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Mary Winter, Family and Consumer Sciences, (515) 294-8843
Sue Ellen Tuttle, Family and Consumer Sciences, (515) 294-8799
Kevin Brown, News Service, (515) 294-8986


AMES, Iowa – A multi-state research group that includes Mary Winter, associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at Iowa State University, has been named winner of a prestigious award for its research on family businesses.

The project, "Family Business Viability in Economically Vulnerable Communities," a U.S. Department of Agriculture Northeastern Multi-state Research Project, has won the 2001 Northeast Regional Research Award for Excellence from the Northeast Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. The award was accepted on behalf of researchers involved in the project by Winter on Jan. 30 in College Park, Maryland.

The award is the culmination of 15 years of research that has provided data for researchers to make reliable estimates on the impact of family businesses to the nation's economy, Winter said.

"This is a classic project in the land grant tradition," Winter said. "It is a project involving extension and faculty members."

Among the project's findings:
  • About 14 percent of households in the United States own or own and manage a family business.
  • Approximately half of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is generated by family businesses. The $10.4 trillion in revenues from family businesses nationally was more than half of all business revenues generated in 1996.
  • More than half of the U.S. labor force was employed in family businesses.
  • Iowa has a disproportionate number of family-owned businesses because of the higher percentage of family farms.

Nancy J. Miller, associate professor of textiles and clothing, also serves as a researcher on the project team. The ISU Statistical Laboratory has been responsible for the centralized data gathering for the project.


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