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Different communities may attract different kinds of entrepreneurs. Some qualities — such as customers with sufficient disposable income, availability of a large employee pool, low taxes and fewer regulations — certainly tend to make a community more appealing to entrepreneurs in general. Still other aspects of a community might appeal to a specific type of entrepreneur.
In an effort to determine what kinds of entrepreneurs are drawn to different communities, Small Business Trends recently conducted a study of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners to discover the types of business owners drawn to various U.S. cities.
The study then looked at the characteristics of communities that drew each group. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share these results. We’ll look at what communities seem to draw the most women entrepreneurs, minority entrepreneurs and small business entrepreneurs and why. We’ll also look at the results of a NerdWallet study that attempted to rank cities by their attractiveness to young entrepreneurs. But let’s get started with the top cities for women in business.
Top Cities for Women Entrepreneurs
When it comes to cities attracting women entrepreneurs, some of the names on the list shouldn’t be too surprising. Top communities on the list are known as leaders in tourism, fashion, finance, media and entertainment. But some have also seen the burgeoning of women owned engineering and tech firms.
Some communities also offer organizations and incentive programs aimed at promoting women entrepreneurs.
Here are the top cities for women entrepreneurs based on the data:
New York City
Since New York City is the biggest city by population in the U.S., it shouldn’t be too surprising it also has the highest number of female entrepreneurs by a decent margin, with 413,899 according to recent Census data. In addition to the large population, the city also draws in a large base of female entrepreneurs thanks to booming industries like tourism, fashion, finance and media. NYC also offers resources specifically for women entrepreneurs in the city.
The second most populous city in the U.S. also boasts the second largest number of women entrepreneurs, with 192,358. Due in part to the large entertainment industry in Los Angeles, there is a huge need for businesses in a variety of creative fields such as hospitality, tourism, transportation and food service. Millennial and women entrepreneurs make up a large number of business owners in these niches.
With 123,632 women business owners, Chicago is third on the list both in terms of women business owners and general population. Chicago’s large business community can be attributed in part to its many professional and educational institutions as well as to a decent tourism industry, which impacts everything from shopping to food. The city has also seen growth in female owned engineering and tech firms in recent years.
The fourth largest city in terms of population is also the fourth on the list of top cities for women entrepreneurs with 102,813. Aside from the population, Houston, like other Texas city’s, has no corporate income and personal income tax. Houston also has a number of incentives and programs, such as enterprise zones and industrial districts, aimed at getting business owners to start or relocate their businesses to the city. It’s strong medical community attracts women entrepreneurs as does tech, finance and the law.
Dallas is another city that benefits from the state’s tax structure when it comes to attracting new business owners — of any kind. The ninth largest city in terms of general population has 52,798 female business owners. Aside from the tax structure, the city’s infrastructure, cost of living and available workforce may contribute to its attraction. Target industries include building, food manufacturing, media, IT and more.
With 47,942 female business owners, the eighth most populous city ranks sixth on this list. San Diego draws in entrepreneurs from a variety of industries, including aerospace, maritime, cybersecurity and manufacturing, through research, advocacy and similar support programs.
San Antonio has about 44,295 women business owners and ranks seventh in terms of overall population. Again, in addition to favorable tax conditions , San Antonio also offers some property tax programs that could benefit local businesses, along with foreign trade zones, industrial districts and more incentive programs to bring businesses to the area. A high number of women business owners tap into lucrative retail, restaurant and communication niches.
The sixth largest city in terms of general population has 44,294 women business owners. Technology, manufacturing, bioscience and advanced business services are all growing industries in Phoenix. The city also has a diverse talent pool and proximity to several high profile educational institutions. In addition, the Women’s Enterprise Foundation offers scholarships and grants to women in Phoenix looking to further their education and leadership skills.
Philadelphia has the fifth largest population in the U.S. and about 40,906 women business owners. The city’s neighborhood revitalization efforts, skilled workforce, centralized location and corporate support initiatives are draws for businesses. Women business owners are concentrated in healthcare, construction, technology and staffing services.
With 40,135 female entrepreneurs, the city with the 14th largest population has a larger than average entrepreneurial community thanks to a diverse and innovative business ecosystem. San Francisco’s research centers, universities and business leaders make it an attractive option for tech business owners and those in creative industries. Successful woman owned companies in San Francisco are in technology, mental health, dermatology, printing and staffing services.
Although Miami is 44th in the U.S. in terms of population, the city has 39,762 female business owners. Part of the reason Miami draws in so many women entrepreneurs is its business incentives such as enterprise and empowerment zones. The city also has a vibrant tourism industry and diverse talent pool.
Though Detroit was hit hard by the recent recession, the city has 38,576 female business owners. The city ranks 18th in terms of general population. Since emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, Detroit has a high demand for products and services in a huge range of industries. And lax regulations and low barriers to entry make it a great option for women entrepreneurs just starting out or looking to break into new markets. In addition, Detroit is packed full of engineers and manufacturing professionals. And there’s even a growing tech sector attracting business owners to the area.
Memphis ranks 20th in the country in terms of population and has 35,710 women business owners. The city offers tax incentives, site selection assistance, research services and similar resources in order to attract businesses to the area. Target industries include bioscience, manufacturing, green business and music and tourism.
The 11th in overall population and fourteenth in number of women business owners, Austin boasts 34,253 female entrepreneurs. The capital of Texas offers the same tax benefits as the other Texas cities on this list. And with a vibrant music, arts and creative scene, it’s a big draw for creative and young entrepreneurs.
Charlotte ranks 17th in terms of general population and has 32,008 female entrepreneurs. The city draws in women business owners with incentives like tax credits, financial programs and even contracting opportunities. The city also has several business districts that it is working to revitalize.
The 22nd largest city in the U.S. has about 29,617 women business owners. With programs like business financing, workforce development and site selection assistance, Seattle is working to draw even more entrepreneurs to set up shop in the area. The city even has several outlined areas where it designates funds specifically for services that benefit businesses in the area.
With 29,425 female business owners, Fort Worth attracts entrepreneurs with its low cost of living, business friendly tax structure and talented labor pool. The city, which is 16th in terms of overall population, also offers enterprise zones, public improvement districts and neighborhood empowerment zones.
Portland currently has about 29,074 women business owners. It ranks 28th in overall population. The city boasts a vibrant creative community that attracts entrepreneurs ranging from chefs to designers. It also offers financial support, business districts and other economic development strategies.
The 10th most populous city in the U.S. has about 28,981 female entrepreneurs. San Jose works to attract entrepreneurs through workforce development, real estate and cultural programs.
With 28,725 women business owners, Denver is currently the 23rd largest city by population in the U.S. and the city boasts qualities that would attract any entrepreneur regardless of gender. A big part of the city’s draw for business owners is its young, active and energetic workforce. Some of the industries that the city is focusing on include health and wellness, energy and bioscience.
The 12th largest city in the U.S. currently has about 28,749 female entrepreneurs. Jacksonville is working to redevelop some of its economically distressed areas and promote private capital investment for businesses in the area, part of what might draw some of those business owners to the city.
Atlanta’s 28,172 women business owners make it 22nd on this list, though it’s fortieth by overall population. The city works to attract business owners and grow its business community by providing small business loans, issuing bonds to spur commercial development and promote other relevant business incentives.
As the 13th largest city in the U.S., Indianapolis boasts 27,668 women business owners. Indianapolis touts its ability to offer businesses all the accessibility of a small city, but the amenities that you would find in much larger cities. There are also tax abatement programs, grants and similar business incentive programs offered.
The nation’s capital currently has about 27,064 female entrepreneurs, and is the 24th largest city by population. Government contractors and political service providers are of course more prevelant in Washington, D.C. than they are in many other cities. But the city also offers business improvement districts, community development corporations and similar programs to improve its business community.
Columbus is the 15th most populous city in the U.S. and has about 27,044 women business owners. The city has some very specific goals for adding capital investment and creating jobs in the community. So the community is working to attract investments for local businesses, connecting startups with local resources and helping existing businesses to expand.
The 26th largest city in the U.S. is also 26th in terms of female entrepreneurs, with 24,599. With business friendly features like steady tax rates, counseling and talent recruitment, the local government and business community both work to create a diverse and tight-knit business community in Baltimore.
With the 25th largest population in the U.S., Nashville boasts 24,115 women entrepreneurs. Known as Music City, Nashville’s creative community is part of what makes it a draw for entrepreneurs. In addition, the city offers employment, investment and tax incentives for certain businesses.
The 19th largest city in the country, El Paso has about 21,872 female business owners. In addition to the tax reasons that make Texas such a popular destination for just about any entrepreneur, El Paso has business incentives like foreign trade zones.
The booming tourism industry in Las Vegas is part of what attracts some business owners, including the 21,421 female business owners, to the city. Tax credits, financing and other state and local incentive program also attract some entrepreneurs to Las Vegas.
Oklahoma City has 20,163 women business owners and is the 29th largest city in terms of overall population. A big draw to this city is its low cost of living. But there are also some business specific programs like enterprise zones, foreign trade zones and more.