Cook County tops nation for black-owned firms


Cook County had more African American-owned businesses in 2007 than any other county in the nation, with 83,733 located here, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last week.

Nationally, African American-owned businesses grew at three times the national rate for all businesses between 2002 and 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, according to a Census Bureau  report released Feb. 8. Hispanic-owned firms grew at twice the national rate during the same period, the bureau reported last year.

Growth factors

The growth in minority-owned businesses stems from several factors, said Darryl Williams, director of research and policy at the Kansas City, Mo.-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Some started businesses because they lost their jobs during the recession, while others may be serial entrepreneurs looking to launch a new idea, he said.

But minorities also might be more willing to attempt entrepreneurship because they perceive fewer opportunities in large corporations, said Phillip Barreda, executive vice president of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council Inc. The recession, followed by slow economic recovery, has made many minorities weary of job security at companies where some of them feel they don t fit the demographic profile, he said.

Creating “Me Inc.”

Instead, they are taking their education and job know-how to work for themselves, he said. A lot of them believe [you can] create your own business, create your own opportunities, create the concept of ˜me Inc. , he said.

Throughout the nation, the number of black-owned businesses hit 1.9 million in 2007, up 61 percent from 2002, which is more than triple the national rate of 18 percent for all businesses, the Census Bureau reported.  What’s more, receipts generated by all black-owned businesses increased 55.1 percent to $137.5 billion.

Black-owned businesses continued to be one of the fastest growing segments of our economy, showing rapid growth in both the number of businesses and total sales during this time period, said Census Bureau Deputy Director Thomas Mesenbourg in a news release.

New job creation

The growth also brought new jobs. Nationwide,  black-owned businesses employed 921,000 workers in 2007, up 22 percent from 2002, while their payrolls rose 36 percent to $24 million. Total sales from black-owned employer businesses rose 50 percent to $99 billion during the period, while about 14,500 black-owned businesses had receipts of $1 million or more, up 35 percent from 2002.

But the biggest growth came among nonemployer businesses, which increased in number to 1.8 million in 2007, up 65 percent from 2002. Their receipts climbed 69 percent to $39 billion during the same period.

— Hallie Busta