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Omaha Magazine

Diversity in Business: Omaha Chamber

Feb 01, 2022 11:29AM ● By David Brown
David Brown, president and CEO, Greater Omaha Chamber

 One of the greatest opportunities that has presented itself over the past several years is the low number of minority-and women-owned businesses that exist in the Omaha region compared to the nation as a whole. Nationally, people of color make up about 40% of the population, but only 20% of the nation’s 5.6 million business owners with employees. If ownership shares matched population shares, people of color would own 50% more businesses than they currently do now. Similarly, women are 51% of the U.S. population, but only 33% of business owners with employees, according to the Brookings Institute. Some numbers can help drive this point home.


• There were 9.2 million minority-owned businesses in 2017. 1 million of these businesses had
paid employees.

• Minority-owned businesses with paid employees created 8.9 million jobs and generated $1.4 trillion in revenue in 2017.

• 38.3% of U.S. businesses were owned by women in 2017. Of these women-owned businesses, nearly 10% had paid employees.

• In 2018, 16% of African American women, 14% of Asian women, and 12% of Hispanic women said they were interested in starting a business, which was more than 10% of women in the general population. (Northwestern Mutual)

You may be wondering about the situation in Nebraska. According to a recent study from, the number of minority-owned businesses in the state is quite low. The study ranked all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to see who had the highest number of minority business owners. The list was released in January, and Nebraska ranked 39th. The rankings were based on the percentage of minority-owned small businesses in the state against the number of all small businesses. Nebraska has 179,509 small businesses and of that number, 10,611 are owned by minorities. That shows Nebraska’s minorities own 5.9% of the small businesses in the state compared to a 2020 nonwhite population base of 21.6%.

The gap in minority- and women-owned businesses in this market represents a significant opportunity to grow our economy more rapidly and to take advantage of demographic changes that are predicted over the next two decades. And, while modest, the number of both minority- and women-owned businesses in the region and the state is growing. (Between 2017 and 2019 the percentage of all firms owned by women in Nebraska grew from 15.9% to 17.3%, while the percentage of all firms owned by people of color in the state grew from 5.3% to 5.8%, according to the U.S. Census, 2017-19 Annual Business Surveys. If we continue and enhance our efforts to grow entrepreneurship across all demographics with a goal that diverse business ownership reflects our diverse population, we will be more stable, grow faster, and increase wealth dramatically across the region. These outcomes can only be good for Greater Omaha and the state
of Nebraska.

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