Illinois lags in development of women-owned business — but why?


Illinois might be ranked fifth in the nation in  number of women-owned businesses, but the state has some catching up to do in other measures of business development.

The number of women-owned companies in Illinois totals 366,700, putting it ahead of most states but behind California, New York, Texas and Florida, according to a new report commissioned by American Express Open and based on U.S. Census Bureau data.  As the report points out, “The states with the greatest number of women-owned firms, naturally, are the most populous.” Among metropolitan areas, Chicago ranked third in number of women-owned firms with 293,400 in 2012, behind top-ranked New York/New Jersey with 670,100 and Los Angeles with 417,900 women-owned companies.

Yet when evaluating the “economic clout” of women-owned firms, Illinois falls to 44th in the nation, due largely to a poor showing in employment numbers and revenue growth. Economic clout is determined by considering the state’s growth in number of women-owned firms, growth in firm revenues and growth in employment figures. Illinois ranked 49th in employment among women-owned firms, with employment declining 16.6 percent from 1997 to 2012. In addition, growth in firm revenue for the state’s women-owned businesses lags that of most other states at 26.2 percent  during the 15-year period, putting it in 48th place. That compares with a growth in firm revenue rate of 191.2 percent for top-ranked Wyoming, the data indicate. Illinois’  53 percent growth rate in number of women-owned firms from 1997 to 2012 puts it in 19th place.

Your view: Why do you think Illinois lags the nation in the development of women-owned businesses? What could be done to improve the picture? Please post a comment.

Learn more about the national report on women-owned businesses by clicking on this link —