Owatonna Business Women (OBW) is one of the oldest organizations in Owatonna, drawing our roots from the early 1900s when women around the country were fighting for the right to vote. Owatonna was no different as OBW got its start in 1919, a year when many other local organizations and businesses also formed in Owatonna. However, OBW began as Business and Professional Women (BPW) and was part of a national association of BPW groups until the early 2000s. At that time, we transitioned to Owatonna Business Women as part of the Minnesota Business Women.
In 2011, OBW decided that we could provide more value to OBW members if we focused the organization’s time, funds and efforts locally. From that point on, OBW became a local, independent non-profit and ended its affiliation with a state organization. This change to a fully local organization allows us to keep our funds in the Owatonna community, both as a benefit to member resources and development and to the events and scholarships we provide in the community.
Now OBW has a diverse group of businesses and industries represented in our membership including corporate, small business, home-based business, non-profits, state and local government and retirees. Members meet monthly on the third Tuesday of each month at the Owatonna Country Club for networking, professional development and personal growth. Members are not required to attend meetings or purchase goods or services from other members. OBW’s focus is on connecting, amplifying and empowering women. We do this through our educational programs, networking opportunities and civic engagement.
More importantly, we host the annual Woman of Achievement event where OBW honors local women who have excelled in their careers, personal life and dedication to the community. One of these women is selected as the Woman of Achievement for the year. What started as the Owatonna Woman of the Year has continued and evolved into an event that honors Woman of Achievement nominees and award winner, Young Careerist recipients and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Through this event, OBW awards thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to high school seniors, women resuming their education and GED applicants. OBW believes in the power of elevating and encouraging women on their own unique path to success.