Mary Hull, partner at Stoel Rives, shared this update on entrepreneurship nationally and in the region at the 2022 OEN Entrepreneurship Awards.
Entrepreneurship around the country
It is fitting that OEN is hosted the annual entrepreneurial awards in November. That planning aligned nicely with The White House’s proclamation designating November as National Entrepreneurship Month to “celebrate the doers, dreamers, and job creators whose vision and grit fuel our economy and capture the essence of America.”
In the face of a pandemic, founders and entrepreneurs thrived with a record 5.4 million new businesses starting in 2021 which is 20 percent more new businesses than any year on record. What was dubbed as the “Great Resignation” by many could alternatively be referred to as an entrepreneurial renaissance. Additionally, the challenges faced by women – working mothers in particular – leaving the workforce to perform caregiving duties fueled entrepreneurial ambitions. According to a study by LinkedIn, since the pandemic hit, women-founded enterprises grew by 27% compared to organizations started by men which grew by 17% during the same time period.
The rate of entrepreneurship among founders of color also soared during and coming out of the pandemic. Black Americans founded businesses at the same rate as white Americans for the first time since this data has been collected. LatinX founders exceeded all other racial demographics, starting 73% more companies per 100,000 people.
And all this momentum is poised to continue into the next generation with Forbes reporting that almost 40% of 18 to 24 year olds are involved in entrepreneurial ventures or have high entrepreneurial intentions. This statistic is not surprising given that entrepreneurship certificates and programs at two and four year colleges have increased tenfold in the past 15 years from 500 to 5000. With two examples of those programs in the room tonight – thank you Portland State University and University of Oregon – it is heartening to know our region is well positioned to continue to thrive as an entrepreneurial hotspot.
Entrepreneurship in the region
When we look closer to home, Oregon and SW Washington continue to be a great place for founders, entrepreneurs and anyone wanting to start a business. Earlier this year, Oregon jumped 17 spots in the CNB America’s Top States for Business rankings for 2022, climbing to the 18th best state in the country. This jump was buoyed by a strong rebound in Oregon’s economy which has historically been one of the strongest in the nation.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the region continues to abound in natural beauty that attracts founders and inspires innovators, that fosters immense support of buying local and is home to many organizations committed to the success of entrepreneurs. The state of entrepreneurship looks quite good from my vantage point and the energy in this room indicates that the future is bright.