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Business Owner Diversity: A Look at Certified Business Enterprises in the U.S.

The key to small business success, according to some experts, is diversity. We collected data to understand the impact minority- and female-owned businesses are having in the U.S. Read on to see what we discovered.
three employees talking to each other

Small businesses are referred to by many as the backbone of the American economy. The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council has stated that firms with fewer than 20 employees made up nearly 90 percent of all businesses in 2014. And if you add in non-employer businesses, America’s smallest operations made up 97.9 percent of the total workforce in the same year.

With their ability to create jobs, inject financial stability into communities, and combine innovation and creativity in ways larger competitors often can’t, small businesses and the people who run them are a part of what makes America so unique. And what is the key to small business success, according to some experts? Diversity.

To learn more, we collected data to understand the impact minority- and female-owned businesses are having in the U.S. – from cities and states where minority and female entrepreneurs are having the strongest impact to regions that could use more of their presence. Want to know which major cities are making a mark on business owner diversity? Read on to see what we discovered.

Business Melting Pots

minor majority_business-diversity

Source: See Methodology

Of the states where data was accessible on the representation of minority business owners, three emerged as clear leaders in their communities: Maryland, Delaware, and Arkansas.


In Maryland, we found more than 40 minority owners, on average, per every 100,000 residents across the state. Despite facing higher taxes and even a higher cost of living, small business opportunities in Maryland are often boosted by the state’s proximity to Washington, D.C., and the availability of government contracts. Having your business certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) can also have its benefits, and in Maryland, that includes earning funding from the Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) fund from six casinos. According to our study, Capitol Heights, Beltsville, and Brentwood were among the top cities in the state recognized for their diverse business owner presence.


While Delaware and Arkansas also ranked as having higher representations of minority-owned businesses per 100,000 residents, we found nine states without easy-to-access reporting on minority business owners in their region, including Arizona, Alabama, and Idaho. Parts of Arizona still offer certifications to minorities and women as “disadvantaged” business owners, but the full impact of these programs remains unclear.


Bridging the Gap


Source: See Methodology


According to our research, Capitol Heights, Maryland, had the highest average number of minority-owned businesses, while New York City ranked as having the highest average number of minority business owners among the country’s most populated cities. With roughly 5.3 minority business owners for every 1,000 residents, Capitol Heights’ diversity presence doesn’t end with small businesses. Earning relatively high marks for its sense of community diversity, the multiformity of race and gender in the city represents a multitude of cultures and heritage.








Similarly, Chicago and Austin also ranked among the most populated cities with the highest averages of minority-owned businesses. San Jose, which represents Silicon Valley (the tech industry capital of the U.S.), has seen its highs and lows in the quest to truly diversify the playing field. Inclusion in the tech industry has seen more progress in certain cities (and companies) compared to others, and continued efforts to expand the face of technology among entrepreneurs is considered a top priority for some organizations.

Minority Americans in Business

comparing the numbers

Source: See Methodology (link to methodology)

While some states with high percentages of minority-owned businesses also reflect an above average percentage of minority residents compared to the state population, our study revealed other states have fostered a strong presence of minority business owners despite having a below average minority ratio overall.

Of the other top 10 states in the country for the number of minority-owned businesses per capita, only Washington (25 percent) and Colorado (16.5 percent) had a below average population of minority residents.

Female Power

women in charge

Source: See Methodology (link to methodology)

In 2015, men made up an estimated 71 percent of all business owners in the U.S. While that figure might appear to leave little room for women in the entrepreneurial workforce, the percentage of female-owned small businesses is on the rise. Since 2007, the number of female-owned firms in the U.S. has increased by 68 percent – a faster rate than the overall business average of just 47 percent.

That progress can be seen more clearly in states like Maryland, Rhode Island, and Washington, which had the highest percentages of female-owned businesses for every 100,000 residents. In Maryland, the cities of Sykesville, Kensington, and Annapolis had the highest representation of female business leaders.

Emerging Trends

community of women

Source: See Methodology

New York City ranked as our top and most populous city for minority business owners and took the top spot for female entrepreneurs across the country.

In 2016, research conducted by Dell Technologies declared New York City the best place in the world to be a female business owner. From better business funding, certifications, grants, and mentorship programs, as well as policies and initiatives designed to help attract them, female entrepreneurs have shown significant progress in New York. Opportunities for classes and networking events help ensure the pipelines for female business owners stay full with the next wave of entrepreneurs.








































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Beyond New York, Austin, Sykesville, and Atlanta were the most recognizable for their presence of female business owners, while San Jose, California, landed one of the bottom slots. Known as a hotbed for the tech industry, women continue to struggle to find solid footing in Silicon Valley.
































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Measuring Up
































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































the big 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Source: See Methodology
































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































With a slightly above average female population statewide, Maryland ranked as the top state in the country for female-owned businesses per capita. With 17.5 female-owned operations for every 100,000 residents, women can participate in the state’s Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) to receive business-funding lottery proceeds as well as specialized financing and incentive resources. In 2017, crowdfunding platform iFundWomen Maryland (similar to GoFundMe and Kickstarter) launched and aimed at connecting female-owned businesses to other avenues for financial backing. 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Following Maryland, Rhode Island (14.8 female-owned businesses per 100,000 residents), Washington (13.4), and Vermont (13.1) housed the highest percentages of female-owned firms in the 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












































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Building Better Ventures