Mpls top-ranked for women in business

Minneapolis was ranked a top city for women entrepreneurs.

by Erica Mahoney

Over the first dozen years of the millennium, growth in new U.S. businesses ticked up by 2 percent. Women-owned enterprises saw 13 times that amount of growth in the same time period.
With the help of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis is one of the top U.S. cities for business-minded women. The personal finance website NerdWallet recently ranked the city as the eighth-best city in the nation for women entrepreneurs, based on small business loans and big revenues. 
Through different events and resources, the University’s Carlson School of Management has helped support the city’s efforts by encouraging female business students with the goals of starting their own companies, learning more about technology and becoming entrepreneurs. 
“It’s a combination of the support from being in a close-knit community like Dinkytown and the general support in Minneapolis for women’s leadership,” said Kristen Eide-Tollefson, owner of the Book House in Dinkytown.
Still, she said she would like to see more programs that encourage mentoring between women entrepreneurs. 
Programs like MN Cup — a statewide program that supports the early stages of Minnesota entrepreneurs — now has a women’s initiative aimed to help female participants.
“The women’s initiative is really trying to increase awareness that there is a resource available to women entrepreneurs to get started,” said Melissa Kjolsing Lynch, assistant
program director for Carlson’s Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship.
She said women head 33 percent of companies that enter the competition.
Carlson also hosts an event called Spurthree times a year, which is designed to connect female undergraduate students with successful businesswomen.
Another important resource for women interested in entrepreneurship is Tech Cities, an event in Minneapolis about technological talent within the metro area.
Maggie Tomas, director of Carlson’s Graduate Business Career Center, said Tech Cities, launched last March, has added a session designed for women.
“The whole women in technology theme sort of found us,” she said.
The session includes a panel of women who focus on themes such as how to get female high school students interested in technology and how to help employers write job descriptions that appeal to both men and women, Tomas said.
She said there is a strong emphasis on women leaders at these panels.
“You need to be aware of who’s presenting,” Tomas said. “If we’re trying to tell women, ‘You can be a management consultant,’ and then we have a panel of all men, that’s not going to speak to them.”
Tomas said she believes Minneapolis is a successful city for women in business because it’s a community focused on giving back.
“We’re a community that’s very philanthropic … and that appeals to women,” she said.