Langston Hughes once said, “I’d rather be a lamppost in Harlem than the governor of Georgia.” Things seem to have taken a shift, however, as the state of Georgia was ranked the best state for Black entrepreneurs, according to the inaugural FitSmallBusiness study. The study factored in metrics such as cost-of-living, startup growth, Black business success and social equality. Gone are the days when Blacks had to migrate up north for economic opportunity, based on these new rankings.
Not one state above the Mason-Dixon line cracked the study’s top five. Georgia was followed by Texas, Florida, California and North Carolina, to round out the top five. The first northern state is New York, which came in at the number eight. On the other end of the spectrum, the bottom five are Connecticut, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine, at number 50. With its rich history of Greenwood’s Black Wall Street, Oklahoma came in at number six and despite its illustrious history of Black businesses in Chicago, Illinois only managed to come in at number 27.
The numbers matter for Black entrepreneurs, for a variety of reasons. Business today is global and as such, Black entrepreneurs must always think well beyond local. Economic and social factors very well may make one city or state a better choice to set up shop. Black entrepreneurs cannot be afraid to move or seek greener pastures, in this competitive business environment. The numbers also represent clear signals to Black people that advocacy must be done in states around the country. Elected officials should have clear marching orders as to how to improve the climate for Black owned businesses or these conditions will not change.