By Bruce Krasnow The Santa Fe New Mexican.
Santa Fe is known worldwide as a city with an eclectic array of small and locally owned businesses, but a new study also suggests it has one of the highest concentrations of women-owned businesses.
From restaurants and retail stores to financial planning firms and construction companies, Santa Fe is listed as the top location for the percentage of women-owned businesses among almost 300 communities analyzed, according to the consumer website NerdWallet.
"The percent of female-owned businesses is over 30 percent. That's the highest metrics of all 289 metro areas," said Sreekar Jasthi, an analyst with the website.
Kathy L. Jahner, a vice president of the group Santa Fe Professional Business Women, is not surprised by the study. She said Northern New Mexico has always been open to outsiders and has a strong network of professionals who want to mentor and assist others.
"Women are supportive of other women, and that's always been the case," said Jahner, a business consultant.
The NerdWallet site, which has a bevy of information -- from the best credit-card rates to comparisons on automobile insurance -- lists California as a strong place for women-owned firms, but also highlights smaller cities as Santa Fe, Racine, Wis., and Monroe, Mich., where financial barriers to enter a market are not as steep.
The study did not look at how long businesses stay open or the regulatory and inspection issues involved in getting a license -- two variables that might have worked against Santa Fe. In fact, Santa Fe didn't do nearly as well in two of the subcategories -- the average revenue for women-owned businesses and the median income for women. Both figures were lower for Santa Fe than for some other communities in the top 10.
And Jahner said the biggest complaint of entrepreneurs in Santa Fe is getting over regulatory hurdles with the city and state. "It has gotten somewhat better," Jahner said. "But for a lot of people it takes so long. You think you have everything done, and then there's something else."
But when NerdWallet scored all eight metrics it measured, Santa Fe had the highest ranking, ahead of communities as Boulder, Colo., Napa, Calif., and San Francisco, where the cost of living is even higher than in Santa Fe.
"New Mexico's capital city tops our list for its high percentage of businesses owned by women and its affordable cost of living. The city's tourism industry attracts at least 1 million visitors each year who come to enjoy the city's rich arts culture, adobe-style architecture and breathtaking views of the southern Rocky Mountains. Over 80 percent of the city's restaurants are locally owned," the study says.
"We're still a small enough town that we deal with people one on one," Jahner said. "There's a lot of business assistance available. I get a lot of people contacting me who have just moved to Santa Fe or who want to move here to start a business." ________________________________________ On the Web To read the study visit www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/best-places-women-owned-businesses/. Percent of women-owned businesses Santa Fe: 33.7 percent Boulder, Colo.: 30.2 percent Monroe, Mich.: 28.9 percent Racine, Wis.: 26.2 percent Ocean City N.J.: 27 percent Napa, Calif.,: 31.1 percent Washington, D.C.: 33.2 Town of Barnstable, Mass.: 28.3 percent San Francisco: 31.5 percent Lancaster, Pa.: 25.4 percent