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November 16, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Tennessee ranks very high among states for Black entrepreneurs

The latest listing from Merchant Maverick has the Volunteer State #2, a jump of nine places from its 2022 ranking at #11.

The Volunteer State is on the rise in terms of Black entrepreneurship. That’s according to the latest ranking from Merchant Maverick, an organization that describes itself as a provider of honest, accurate, and actionable information for business decision-makers. Tennessee moved up to #2 in the 2023 rankings, a jump of nine places from its 2022 ranking at #11.

The site describes the state this way: “With its varied economy largely dominated by healthcare, automotive, agriculture, and tourism, Tennessee also has a sizable Black population – 17 percent according to The Agriculture and Commerce state ranks better-than-average for Black businesses in every metric we measured and stands out, particularly in terms of its high annual income of Black business owners ($63,762, or sixth highest in the nation) and low cost of living (10th lowest nationally). Tennessee is also one of several states with no state income tax.”

Topping the list was Maryland. Behind Tennessee, but still in the top 10, were Nevada (#3), Virginia (#4), Georgia (#5), Louisiana (#6), Indiana (#7), Texas (#8), North Carolina (#9), and Florida (#10).

How were the rankings determined? MJerchant Maverick says it collected data from seven different metrics for each state. For each metric, states were given a score out of 100 based on each state’s rank, with the best-ranked state scoring 100 and the worst-ranked state scoring 0. These individual metric scores were then multiplied by specific weights to achieve an overall score for each state.

  • Four metrics equally accounted for 75 percent of the overall score. They were: (1) Black-owned employer businesses per capita: (2) percent of the workforce employed by Black-owned businesses; (3) average annual payroll of Black-owned businesses; and (4) average annual income of Black business owners.
  • The remaining three metrics – cost of living, unemployment rate, and state income tax rate – equally accounted for 25 percent of the overall score.

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