Women-Owned Businesses Growing Twice National Average

Nearly half of all privately held firms in the U.S. -- 10.6 million -- are owned 50 percent or more by women, says a new Center for Women's Business Research study sponsored by Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC).

According to the study, "Women-Owned Businesses in 2004," between 1997 and 2004 the number of women-owned firms with employees were estimated to grow over 28 percent, nearly three times the rate of all privately held firms, and twice the national rate of all firms. Employment grew over 24%, more than twice the rate of all firms, while revenues increased about 39%.

"Women-owned firms are growing, and increasing their employment faster than the general market," said Joy Ott, Regional President for Wells Fargo in Montana and National Spokesperson for Wells Fargo's Women's Business Services program. "These firms are driving growth in the American workplace, while generating revenues at a similar rate to all firms. This is a powerful statement about this fast-growing segment of American small business owners."

"Businesses that are 50 percent or more women-owned are growing at twice the rate of all firms, 17% vs. 9%. These businesses are a critical component of the national economy, not only in terms of their sheer numbers, but also in terms of their impact on employment and revenue generation," said Sharon Hadary, Executive Director, Center for Women's Business Research. "As employers of 19.1 million people, these women-owned firms spend over half a trillion dollars annually on just payroll and benefits."

The latest and most complete snapshot of women-owned businesses in the U.S. also highlights the top 10 fastest growing states for women-business owners. Based on an average rank 1997 to 2004 growth rates in the number, employment and sales among privately held, 50 percent or more women-owned firms, these states are:

  1. Utah
  2. Arizona
  3. Nevada
  4. Idaho
  5. Kentucky
  6. New Mexico (tied)
  7. South Carolina
  8. North Carolina
  9. Arkansas
  10. Oregon

The study results offer the most comprehensive view of the growth and expansion of women-owned businesses, tracking information like composition, spending habits and core industries of women entrepreneurs nationwide. It is the latest resource underwritten by Wells Fargo as part of its Women's Business Services program, an outreach and education program aimed at building relationships with women business owners by sponsoring key community organizations and market research.

Measuring its progress with a new public goal to lend $20 billion to qualified woman-owned businesses within ten years, Wells Fargo has lent more than half a billion dollars since re-establishing the goal in September 2003, and is now tracking at 150 percent of its pro-rated objective. Since the program's inception in 1995, Wells Fargo has lent more than $16 billion to women business owners nationwide.

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