Charlotte ranked first in growth of number of women-owned firms among the top 50 metropolitan areas in the United States, according to a report commissioned by American Express OPEN.
The city achieved the ranking through a 241.6 percent increase of women-owned firms during the past 15 years, increasing from 30,932 firms in 2002 to its present total of 105,700.
The city elected an African-American woman mayor for the first time in its history Tuesday.
“We’re encouraged to see the amount of female-owned businesses in the U.S. has more than doubled in 20 years,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express Global Commercial Payments, in a statement.
There are 11.6 million women-owned businesses, employing nearly 9 million people and generating more than $1.7 trillion in revenue in the United States.
Raleigh — the state’s capital — ranked 16th in the study, increasing from 21,996 firms in 2002 to 45,500 firms in 2017, or 106.9 percent.
Overall, North Carolina ranked seventh in growth of the number of women-owned firms among the 50 states during the past 20 years. The state saw an increase of 138.1 percent, from 139,900 in 1997 to 333,100 in 2017.
In 2009, Beverly Purdue became the first woman to hold the governor’s office. She decided not to run in 2012.
In 2016, the state enacted the controversial House Bill 2, or the “bathroom bill,” putting North Carolina in the national spotlight as many businesses and consumers distanced themselves from the state. The law allowed businesses to discriminate on the basis of gender.
In 2017, the gridlocked state government agreed to a partial repeal of the bill, returning some lost business.
The report, now in its seventh year, utilizes data from U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners in order to make its rankings.