You’ll Never Guess the Best State for Women-Owned Business

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 22 2014 10:22 AM

You’ll Never Guess the Best State for Women-Owned Business

Sunflowers.
Time to take the next flight out to the Peace Garden State.

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

This article originally appeared in Inc.

The areas where women entrepreneurs are lacking get a lot of attention—in the tech industry, say—but perhaps we should spend a little more time celebrating the many and growing spaces where female business owners are doing really well.

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Based on the fourth annual OPEN State of Women-Owned Business Report, these are numerous and sometimes stereotype-shattering. The comprehensive look at the state of female-owned firms delves into the rate of business formation by women (an impressive 1,200 new businesses or so a day), the demographics of female business owners (happily, increasingly diverse), and the economic impact of women-owned firms. And it zooms in on geographic trends. If you want to know what areas of the country are home to the most women business owners and where those businesses are truly thriving, this report is for you.

As you'd expect, the most populous states, like California, have the most female-owned businesses in a straight head count, but things got more interesting when the researchers looked not just at the quantity of firms but where women-owned companies are contributing the most to the economy. The report calls this metric "growth in economic clout" and reached a number for each state by "averaging together the rankings of growth in the number, revenues, and employment of women-owned firms."

So where are women-owned firms an increasingly large share of the business landscape? Not California or any other recognized entrepreneurial hot spot—not by a long shot. Here are the top 10:

  • North Dakota
  • District of Columbia
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • Georgia
  • Wyoming
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Texas (tied for ninth place)
  • Utah (tied for ninth place)

Where are women-owned businesses the least dynamic? New England and parts of the Midwest, I'm looking at you. "At the other end of the spectrum, the states in which the combined growth in the number, revenues, and employment of women-owned firms lag the national average to the greatest extent are Iowa, Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Maine," the report reads.

But the dominance of western states in the ranking isn't the only mildly surprising but cheerful news on the expanding territory being conquered by women-owned businesses. The ladies are also breaking into new areas vis-à-vis sector as well as geographic location.

"Women-owned firms are starting and growing businesses in all industries, diversifying into sectors previously described as 'non-traditional' for women. Over the past 14 years there has been an evening-out in the concentration of women-owned firms, meaning that an increasing number of women-owned firms can be found in all industries," concludes the report.

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London.

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