For Women Entrepreneurs, The West Is the New Promised Land

Study by Finds Female Business Owners Have Most Chance for Success Out West These Are the Top States for Women-Led Startups in 2023

America’s original Westward Expansion was led by entrepreneurs of the day noticing great economic opportunities out west. A just-released study shows that a new slew of opportunities are appearing in Western states for women entrepreneurs.

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For the third year in a row, Colorado tops annual ranking of “The Best States For Women-Led Startups”., which publishes this annual report, is a business product comparison site for business owners. Other western states which made the cut include ArizonaWashington and California.

Interestingly, though, the Northeast, which has traditionally been a strong region for women in business, did not appear in the Top 10 this year. Maryland and Massachusetts both fell out of their coveted spots, and only New York has the region’s strongest showing clocking in at Number 12. This drop can be attributed, at least in part, to disproportionate unemployment in that part of the country.

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Key findings:

  • Venture capital funding to female (co-)founded startups fell 15% in 2022. This finding may be misleading, as every statistic from the COVID era will carry an asterisk. 2021 had record high VC funds for women. 2022’s funding was still exceptionally high, and at the second highest year ever.
  • Colorado remains the most female entrepreneur-friendly state for the third year in a row. What makes this especially noteworthy is that the state remains #1 despite a relatively high unemployment rate.
  • The range of unemployment rates between states was less pronounced this year. Another lingering effect of COVID was the impact it had on unemployment rates. During and immediately after the worst of the pandemic, states varied wildly in restrictions on businesses, and consequently employment rates. Now, as that has eased, the difference in unemployment rates among the states has closed significantly.
  • Wyoming and Illinois are this year’s most improved states among the Top 10. Women in Wyoming are starting businesses and overseeing a high percentage of the state’s employees. Illinois appears to be growing due to high levels of venture capital in the Chicago area.
  • The Northeast is absent from the Top 10 this year. New YorkVermont, and Massachusetts fared well, but missed the Top 10, landing at number 12, 13, and 14 respectively.

Researchers at analyzed data from a variety of sources including the Census Bureau’s 2020 Annual Business Survey, PitchBook’s US VC Female Founders Dashboard and the 2021 edition of the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship (to name a few), in order to bring you the “Best States for Women-Led Startups in 2023”.

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