Recent research highlighted in Entrepreneur ranks the top cities for minority entrepreneurs and Baltimore is in the running. The study is from Expert Market which used the following seven factors in its rankings:
• opportunity share for new entrepreneurs
• rate of new entrepreneurs
• startup density
• economic opportunities for minorities
• number of minority-owned enterprises
• startup costs
• funding access
What’s most illuminating is that six of the top ten cities are in the South and absent from the top ten are the usual tech hotbeds other than San Jose (which ranked below Baltimore). Baltimore comes in fifth –among the seven factors applied, Baltimore ranked second in economic opportunities for minorities, fifth in opportunity share for new entrepreneurs, and sixth in startup density.
A Holistic Startup Paradigm. The cities topping the list – Houston, Miami, Atlanta – according to the study, offer “highly inclusive and affordable lifestyles.” Importantly, these communities have approached support structures, such as incubators, accelerators, funding programs, mentoring support, in an inclusive and diverse manner, oriented to attracting minority entrepreneurs looking for “the best places to live, work and launch a business.” According to the authors, those regions which are succeeding in attracting and growing minority entrepreneurs “champion diversity, coupled with a favorable startup environment.”
Game On. One might debate the factors used or their weighting. It’s not a debate that matters. What matters is that communities increasingly recognize that supporting minority entrepreneurs is critical to their future. Inclusion and diversity are increasingly (albeit belatedly) being recognized as competitive economic drivers for regions – not just as talking points but ingrained in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. As this benchmarking shows, Baltimore is not alone in rethinking entrepreneurism. We have an incredible opportunity not only to support those organizations already focused on helping minority entrepreneurs succeed, but to identify and scale those resources that are holding us back.
With more than 30 years’ experience in law and business, Newt Fowler, a partner in Womble Carlyle’s business practice, advises many investors, entrepreneurs and technology companies, guiding them through all aspects of business planning, financing transactions, technology commercialization and M&A. He’s the past board chair of TEDCO and serves on the Board of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. Newt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.