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What Are the Best and Worst Cities for Women-Owned Businesses?

Rieva Lesonsky
women owned businesses

“Location, location, location” is important not only in real estate but also when it comes to starting a business. If you’re a woman planning to start a business — or a woman business owner seeking a change of scenery — the location you choose can be an important factor in your success. To help you find the ideal location, WalletHub has just released a new study of the best and worst cities for women-owned businesses. The study compared the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the United States, ranking them on three elements:

  1. Overall new-business friendliness, which ranks how hospitable the climate is toward new business startups, accounts for 30 percent of the score.
  2. Female entrepreneurship measures a number of factors including the percentage of women owned businesses, the average percentage growth of women-owned businesses, the average revenue of women-owned businesses, and the percentage of employees who are employed by women-owned businesses. This factor was weighted most heavily, accounting for 50 percent of the score.
  3. Business climate for women measures how hospitable the environment is to working mothers and the degree of gender inequality in the region’s workforce. This measure accounts for 20 percent of the score.

Here are the top 10 cities for women-owned businesses:

  1. Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN
  2. Chattanooga, TN-GA
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Memphis, TN
  5. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
  6. Rochester, NY
  7. Kansas City, MO-KS
  8. Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA
  9. Greensboro-High Point, NC
  10. Honolulu, HI

Here are the bottom 10:

  1. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
  2. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  3. Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA
  4. Provo-Orem, UT
  5. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
  6. Pittsburgh, PA
  7. Columbia, SC
  8. Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC
  9. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
  10. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

Do you want to be where there are lots of other women-owned businesses? Then head to Colorado Springs, CO; Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL; Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA; San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO. These regions had the highest percentage of women-owned businesses.

Check out the full list of 100 MSAs ranked in order, as well as a closer look at the places with the most successful women-owned businesses, the most industry diversity among women-owned businesses and the best environment for working mothers, at WalletHub.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.