A new national survey ranks Iowa dead last among the 50 states for the growth and prosperity of businesses owned exclusively by women. Jayne Armstrong, director of the Iowa office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, says the ranking by American Express is a disappointment, but it’s one they aim to improve upon.
“It did show that Iowa is last in the nation for women business owners,” Armstrong says, “but we think with the energy that we’re seeing in the past couple of years in Iowa that things are about to change.” The study placed Iowa 50th for the “combined economic clout” of women-owned businesses, based on factors like growth in the number of firms, growth in firm revenue and growth in employment between 1997 and 2014. In two of those categories, it showed the revenue in women-owned Iowa firms fell nearly four-percent, while employment by such firms fell nearly 22-percent.
Armstrong says, “There is so much more than we need to do to empower women throughout the state and encourage more to get into business and to help the ones already in business to grow and take it to another level.” She questions whether the survey’s numbers are entirely accurate as she says many businesses might not have been counted as the women are in 50-50 partnerships with their spouses. Armstrong notes, Iowa has a rich history of women being involved with family-owned businesses, especially in the agricultural sector. Georgia was tops in this year’s survey.
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)