Women-Owned Firms In Los Angeles Growing Faster Than Economy Increases in top 50 metro areas nationwide By Karen Caplan Women-owned businesses are growing faster than the overall economy in Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA and in each of the top 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S., according to the National Foundation for Women Business Owners (NFWBO). The Foundation’s report is the first detailed, up-to-date study of women-owned enterprises in the nation’s leading cities. The report, “1996 Facts on Women-Owned Businesses: Trends in the Top 50 Metropolitan Areas,” shows that the number of women-owned businesses in the Los Angeles area nearly doubled over the past nine years, employment more than tripled, and sales increased nearly four-fold. As of 1996, Los Angeles’ 314,400 women-owned enterprises employ 681,500 people and generate more than $105 billion in sales. “This substantial growth in both sales and employment of women-owned businesses shows how significant they are to the economic health of their local communities,” noted Susan Peterson, NFWBO Chair. Peterson said, “Nationally, there are nearly 8 million women-owned businesses as of 1996, employing more than 18.5 million people and generating close to $2.3 trillion in sales.” Overall, the growth rates of women-owned firms are the highest in the “non-traditional” goods-producing sector, which includes construction, manufacturing and agribusiness. Los Angeles ranks second in number, size and employment for women-owned businesses. The top metropolitan areas for women-owned businesses ranked on a combination of number of firms, sales and employment in 1996 are: New York, NY; Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA; Chicago, IL; Philadelphia, PA-NJ; and Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV. Between 1987 and 1996, the cities with the fastest growth in women-owned businesses were: Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA; Seattle/Bellevue/Everett, WA; Phoenix-Mesa, AZ; Houston, TX; and Nashville, TN, as measured by the growth in the number, employment and sales among women-owned firms. Los Angeles ranks 22nd in growth rate over the past nine years. “As we increase in numbers and economic power, women-owned enterprises are beginning to resemble the profile of all U.S. businesses in size, age, creditworthiness and industry distribution,” observed Peterson, NFWBO Chair. ### Karen Caplan is President of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Los Angeles Chapter (NAWBO-LA). She also is President of Frieda’s, Inc., the nation’s leading marketer of specialty produce.