Black entrepreneurs are the hottest thing in the black community. From techpreneurs, to beauty and hair industry moguls, to media bosses, being ones own boss has never been more attainable than the present day. According to the U.S. Census’s most recent survey of business owners, there are currently 2.5 million businesses owned by blacks in America.
One region of the country that’s been a growing hub for black entrepreneurship is the South. According to a report by Blacktech Week that came out last year, the top 3 cities for black entrepreneurs are Memphis, Montgomery Alabama, and Atlanta, all located in the South. In fact, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama each ave 2 metropolitan areas in the top ten areas with higher percentage of black businesses in relation to the total businesses.
So, why are the Southeastern cities becoming major hub for black entrepreneurs?
1. Higher concentration of blacks in the South– According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau, in 2010, 55% of the black population lived in the South. That number stayed the same in 2016. With this level of concentration, it is only natural that the South also breeds more black businesses.
Of course, the South has a long history of black owned businesses that lead back to the the days of slavery. Blacks that gained their own freedom, and some that were still enslaved, operated their own businesses. Some even bought their freedom with money they earned through their businesses!
That tradition of self empowerment through black ownership still remains in the South and the rest of the country.
2. Lower cost of living– As living expenses skyrocket in large metropolitan areas in the West and East, the South has become a much more attractive place to move to and establish a business. According to USA Today’s article on this subject, “After nearly 100 years, Great Migration begins reversal”, from 2005-2010, the South has gained an average of 66,000 blacks each year. Although the Northeast has the largest loss, blacks are also migrating from the Midwest and West.
With this migration, the South is attracting more than retirees. It’s also attracting college graduates and would-be business owners. Black start-ups are especially seeing a huge advantage to starting out in lower cost cities like Memphis and Atlanta. Whatever they’re able to raise goes much further in these cities than other startup hubs like Silicon Valley.
3. Good economic standing AND good work/life balance– Although Atlanta has long been considered a great place for business (it is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies), it is not the only city in the South with low unemployment rates and a strong economy. Memphis, Savannah, and Durham also share that quality.
Another quality a lot of these Southern cities share is a rich culture and a good work/life balance. Ekundayo Bandele moved to Memphis from Brooklyn back in 1994. What he found was a “thriving black intellectual and cultural community.” More blacks have expressed similar experiences that attest to a good balance of business and pleasure.
The combination of the above three points have made the South a golden place for black entrepreneurship. And all signs point to this gold rush being a long and prosperous one for the black community.