Ahead of Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week, which kicks off Monday, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber today released its annual entrepreneurship and innovation report, which shows that the total number of businesses in the metro area increased by roughly 8,000 between 2010 and 2015.
The report, titled “Catalyzing Growth: Economic Innovation and Expanding Entrepreneurship, says the Baton Rouge metro area tied for first with Memphis among peer cities—including Birmingham, Little Rock, Louisville, and Columbia—for business growth during the five-year period.
The total number of businesses in the Capital Region expanded by 22% to 43,425 over the time frame, up from 35,467 in 2010. The report also says the metro area saw modest increases in both the percentage of locally-owned businesses and the share of total workforce employed by firms with fewer than 100 employees.
“Locally-owned firms, which reinvest a much larger share of their revenues into the community than nonresident companies, are also an important area of strength for the Baton Rouge Area economy,” the report says. “These businesses typically have a stronger influence on job creation than nonresident companies as well, providing additional benefits to local workers.”
Still, area businesses are confronting a number of challenges, particularly from the August flood.
“Between site repairs, cash flow interruptions, decreased revenues and inventory losses, the manifold impacts of the devastating storm have stretched many local businesses to the limit,” the report says. U.S. Small Business Administration loans are helping some businesses operate in the short term, with as much as $111 million in loans issued as of Oct. 25, the report notes.
The report also shows entrepreneurship in the Capital Region is increasingly diversifying, with the metro area ranking as a top city for Hispanic and female entrepreneurs. U.S. Census data shows women were majority stakeholders or equal partners in 46% of local businesses as of 2012.
“The percentage of Baton Rouge businesses owned by minorities increased by 40 percent between 2007 and 2012,” the report says. “African American ownership saw a considerable spike of 44 percent during this time period, while the increase nationwide was only 34 percent.”
Read the full report, which outlines recommendations to support entrepreneurs and small business owners in the wake of the August flood.