Bruce Murphy
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Minority Women-Owned Firms Rise 97%

State still ranks low in entrepreneurship but new firms by women and minority owners soar.

By - Sep 2nd, 2015 01:50 pm
Adelaida Alvarez of Coquettish Nail Salon. Photo from  WWBIC.

Adelaida Alvarez of Coquettish Nail Salon. Photo from WWBIC.

The solution is crystal clear: more new companies mean more economic growth and employment. Most new jobs are generated by small companies.

But easier said than done. Indeed, Wisconsin has long ranked low in start-up companies, and has gotten even worse on Gov. Scott Walker’s watch, dropping from 45th worst state to dead last.

Which makes a new analysis of Census Bureau statistics by the National Women’s Business Council of great interest. It offers a different take on business start-ups, looking at it from the standpoint of women-owned businesses, and the news is both good and bad, for both the nation and Wisconsin. The statistics show the growth of new firms nationally was relatively stagnant from 2007-2012, but there was a huge growth in women-owned firms. In particular, “the number of U.S. businesses owned by minority women is soaring,” as Business Insider reported.

How do the numbers look for Wisconsin? Christine Lidbury, Executive Director of The Wisconsin Women’s Council and Wendy K. Baumann, President of the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, did a breakdown of the data for this state, which allows a comparison to the national statistics:

  • While nationally the increase in new firms was just 2 percent, in Wisconsin the number of firms actually declined slightly, by 0.2 percent.
  • Women-owned firms companies grew by 28 percent nationally, and by 20 percent in Wisconsin.
  • African American women-owned companies grew by 68 percent nationally, and by 72 percent in Wisconsin.
  • Hispanic women-owned companies grew by 87 percent nationally, but by 58 percent in Wisconsin.

In short, women- and minority-owned businesses are a bright spot, both for the U.S. and Wisconsin, at a time of slow growth. “Women… have a growing share of all the companies in the country,” as Business Insider notes, at “36 percent in 2012 versus nearly 30 percent in 2007.”

Women-owned businesses are also leading the way in Wisconsin, but not as quickly as nationally. “Newly released government data rank Wisconsin 46th in women’s business ownership and 39th for minority businesses ownership, a press release from Lidbury and Baumann notes.

The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation has been very involved in trying to grow women-owned businesses. Last year the group provided direct loans to 150 businesses totaling $5.5 million and served 3,500 individuals with business educational training and business consulting support. Over 70 percent of its clients are women and 54 percent are minority, including 80 percent of clients in Milwaukee.

All of which has probably helped women-owned businesses in Wisconsin grow from 112,421 in 2007 to 134,452 in 2012, with total sales receipts for these companies growing from $20 billion to $26 billion. That’s good news for Wisconsin.

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