Women-owned business growth strong in DC area

The number of women-owned businesses has jumped nationwide, including in the D.C. area. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — The seventh annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, from American Express OPEN, finds the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. has more than doubled in the last two decades, and that growth is strong in the D.C. area.

The report says women are starting an average of 849 new businesses a day, up 3 percent from last year. There are now 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 9 million people and generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenue, according to the report, based on Census Bureau data.

“The D.C. area ranks sixth in terms of employment vitality, and what that means is that it has experienced overall growth, and the average size of the business is larger in D.C.,” said Geri Stengel, author of the report and a research adviser to American Express.

Why is women-owned business growth so strong in the Washington region?

“I think it’s … federal contracting for which women get certified, and there are city contracts and there are corporate contracts for certification,” she said.

She added, “The vital signs for Virginia are very strong in terms of women-owned businesses. Virginia ranks high in economic clout, which is growth in revenues and growth in employment. It also does well in terms of employment vitality. Maryland is a little less strong but still above national averages.”

Nationwide, the report notes, women of color have turned to entrepreneurship at an astounding rate.

While the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. grew 114 percent from 1997 to 2017, firms owned by women of color grew at more than four times that rate. In addition, the 5.4 million businesses owned by minority women make up almost half of all women-owned firms.

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