Top 10 cities for women in business

Based on six ranking factors, here are the most promising cities for women entrepreneurs

Top 10 cities for women in business

From 2014 to 2019, the number of women-owned businesses rose by 21% to a total of about 13 million. In these businesses, employment climbed by 8% to 9.4 million, while revenue soared by 21% to $1.9 trillion. In terms of all three metrics, the growth rates for women-owned businesses outpaced the progress of that for all businesses. Despite that, “the potential of women entrepreneurs for spurring economic growth has not been fully realized,” according to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express.

To discover that potential, TollFreeForwarding.com came up with its Women in Business Index, which consists of six data points collected from six various sources. The company gathered data for the top 50 US cities by population and calculated a growth trend (positive and negative) based on the progress these cities made over the 2010s. Based on the strength of the trend, they gave each city a percentile score out of 100 for each of the six ranking factors, bringing the total percentile score to out of 600.

Here are the top 10 most promising cities for women entrepreneurs in the 2020s and beyond:

1. Austin, Texas
Percentile score (out of 600): 502

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women in executive positions (2010-2018): +1.83% (26th)
  • Female earnings as a % of male earnings (2015-2018): +1.5% (16th)
  • % of women-owned businesses (2014-2016): +1.73% (2nd)
  • Future job growth: +46.97% (5th)
  • Population growth (2010-2020): +28.9% (2nd)
  • Economic growth (2010-2018): +63.63% (4th)

Austin’s high ranking for four of the factors above makes it the best city for women in business.

Cindy Y. Lo, Red Velvet Events CEO and founder, believes that the city is female-business friendly because it has a culture of sharing – not pure competition. Lo told TollFreeForwarding.com that she meets and chats with at least two or three new women entrepreneurs a month to give them advice and help them get started. She also said that the city has a strong ratio of female students, who are potential businesswomen.

2. Raleigh, North Carolina
Percentile score (out of 600): 462

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women in executive positions (2010-2018): +3.42% (12th)
  • Female earnings as a % of male earnings (2015-2018): +1.4% (17th)
  • % of women-owned businesses (2014-2016): +0.42% (20th)
  • Future job growth: +44.17% (11th)
  • Population growth (2010-2020): +22.46% (8th)
  • Economic growth (2010-2018): +56.22% (7th)

With no ranking lower than 20th, Raleigh is the second-best city for women to find opportunity, equality, and growth. Women entrepreneurs can check out organizations such as Raleigh Business and Professional Women for resources. Aside from that, the city has adopted a small, disadvantaged, minority-, and women-owned business program that promises to award 15% of the city’s contracts to minority- and women-owned businesses.

3. Portland, Oregon
Percentile score (out of 600): 454

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women in executive positions (2010-2018): +5.05% (3rd)
  • Female earnings as a % of male earnings (2015-2018): +6.7% (3rd)
  • % of women-owned businesses (2014-2016): +0.13% (28th)
  • Future job growth: +42.39% (16th)
  • Population growth (2010-2020): +15.94% (16th)
  • Economic growth (2010-2018): +49.35% (13th)

Ranking 3rd for two factors, Portland is the third-best city for women in business. Lisa Tadewaldt, Urban Forest Pro owner, believes that being a female business owner in a male-driven space isn’t a problem in the city. Tadewaldt told TollFreeForwarding.com that she noticed a strong and accommodating support network for female executives there.

4. San Diego, California
Percentile score (out of 600): 434

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women in executive positions (2010-2018): +4.49% (6th)
  • Female earnings as a % of male earnings (2015-2018): +3% (9th)
  • % of women-owned businesses (2014-2016): +1.87% (1st)

Based on the latest data available, women were most empowered to start their own business in San Diego. Women in business here have access to mentors, networking events, workshops, and various small business tools through the NAWBO and SCORE.

5. Seattle, Washington
Percentile score (out of 600): 430

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women-owned businesses (2014-2016): +0.96% (8th)

Organizations such as CHEW organize events and panels to urge women entrepreneurs to start a business in Seattle. The city is also home to world-famous civic-minded businesswoman Melinda Gates, as well as rising chef and restaurant entrepreneur Renee Erickson, according to Seattle Business Magazine.

6. Fort Worth, Texas
Percentile score (out of 600): 426

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women-owned businesses (2014-2016): +0.9% (9th)

Fort Worth is home to four successful women executives: Elyse Dickerson (CEO and co-founder of ear-care products company Eosera), Dr. Marie Holliday (owner of retail shop & spa Parfumerie Marie Antoinette and floral shop Flowers to Go), Darlene Boudreaux (coach and CFO of TechFW), and Lisa Cobb (CFO of Precise Energy Products, Inc.), according to Fort Worth Magazine.

7. Boston, Massachusetts
Percentile score (out of 600): 412

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women in executive positions (2010-2018): +4.75% (5th)

Women in business here can check out organizations such as Boston Business Women and Women Entrepreneurs Boston for membership programs, skill-building opportunities, technical help, and networks.

8. Charlotte, North Carolina
Percentile score (out of 600): 402

The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte offers tools and support to help women entrepreneurs establish and stabilize their businesses, earn sustainable revenues, strategize for future growth, and contribute to the community’s growth and economic development.

9. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Percentile score (out of 600): 394

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women in executive positions (2010-2018): +5.05% (4th)
  • Female earnings as a % of male earnings (2015-2018): +4% (8th)

Colorado is ranked first in the country for economic success and second for most entrepreneurial, according to Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CWCC). Women in business can join CWCC, a member-based non-profit organization that provides opportunities and visibility through education, relationship building, mentorship, partnership, and alliances. The organization holds more than 100 events, programs, and workshops annually.

10. Arlington, Texas
Percentile score (out of 600): 386

Growth trend data available:

  • % of women-owned businesses (2014-2016): +0.9% (9th)

Women’s Alliance, an outreach of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, offers leadership, mentoring, and direction to devoted members and strengthens women as business, professional, community, and civic leaders.

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