Compiled By Jill Jusko Women-owned businesses are growing at twice the rate of all U.S. firms and will stand at 6.2 million in 2002, new research from the Center for Women's Business Research indicates. Between 1997 and 2002, the Washington-based organization estimates the number of majority-owned, privately held women-owned firms will have grown by 14% compared with 7% for all U.S. firms -- reaching 6.2 million. The Center's research analyzes both published and unpublished data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is detailed in two reports: "Women-Owned Business in 2002: Trends in the U.S. and 50 States" and "Women-Owned Businesses in 2002: Trends in the Top 50 Metropolitan Areas." Sales generated by women-owned businesses increased by 40% between 1997 and 2002, nearing $1.15 trillion, data show. They are expected to employ 9.2 million workers in 2002, up 30% from 1997, reflecting a growth rate one-and-one-half times the national average. "At the present growth rates, there will be 112,700 women-owned firms with revenues of $1 million or more, and almost 8,500 with 100 or more employees, in 2002," says Nina McLemore, chair of the Center. Further analysis indicates that the share of women-owned businesses is particularly strong in the West and Northwest, with almost 35% of all firms in Portland being owned by women. By industry, the greatest growth in the number of women-owned firms is in construction (36%), while the largest share of women-owned firms remains in the service sector (53%).