Business

Iowa female-owned businesses rank 24th: Report

'Face of entrepreneurship is evolving'

Starlet Smith (far right), founder of Fired Up For Single Moms, answers a question during a panel discussion April 12, 2018, at the HER Women in Business Luncheon at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center in Cedar Rapids. (The Gazette)
Starlet Smith (far right), founder of Fired Up For Single Moms, answers a question during a panel discussion April 12, 2018, at the HER Women in Business Luncheon at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center in Cedar Rapids. (The Gazette)

When it comes to female-owned businesses, Iowa falls just above the middle of the pack, an annual report found.

The state ranked 24th nationwide with 90,193 businesses owned by women, according to this year’s State of Women-Owned Business Report, commissioned by American Express.

In 2018, there were 91,136 female-owned businesses in Iowa.

Nationwide, between 2014 and 2019, the number of female-owned businesses grew 21 percent, to nearly 13 million, and came to represent 42 percent of all U.S. businesses. Employment at these businesses grew 8 percent, to 9.4 million, while revenue rose 21 percent, to $1.9 trillion, adjusted for inflation, over this time frame, the report said.

“The face of entrepreneurship is evolving to include all women, regardless of demographics,” Courtney Kelso, American Express’ senior vice president, said in a news release. “The economic impact of women-owned businesses is undeniable, from the trillions they contribute via revenue to the millions of jobs they provide. We are committed to backing these women entrepreneurs because when they win, we all win.”

The most popular new business types included miscellaneous services such as hair and nail salons and pet businesses, as well as health care and social assistance and professional, scientific or technical services.

The report identified 93,948 workers employed Iowa’s female-owned businesses, with approximately $15.2 billion earned in sales.

Under other growth metrics between 2014 and 2019, Iowa ranked lower when compared with other states — at 15th in job growth at female-owned businesses, 19th in the business’ revenue growth and 40th in terms of adding new female-owned businesses.

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One factor contributing to Iowa’s lower growth rankings was a low number of women of color — who last year formed the lion’s share of new businesses created per day nationwide — among its population, said Geri Stengel, research adviser with American Express.

Another factor, and not necessarily a negative one, Stengel said, was a number of women joining the workforce, rather than starting their own businesses to make ends meet, on account of a strong state economy.

And Stengel said she believes there’s still “a lot of room” for the number of female-owned businesses to expand further, citing training and certification programs at different levels of government, plus potential affordable child care and family leave policy measures lawmakers could pass in the future.

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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