Main Street Elizabethton celebrates “tremendous growth” of women-led businesses

Published 6:25 pm Monday, March 7, 2022

By Lynn J. Richardson

Female leaders and owners of Elizabethton downtown businesses came together this week to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, and to shine a light on the “tremendous growth” of women-led companies in the community.

The group who gathered for a photo on East Elk Avenue on Monday morning included Main Street Elizabethton leaders, as well as current downtown business owners. And although the turnout was wonderful, it was still just a portion of the large number of women who lead and/or own downtown businesses and organizations, said Main Street director, Courtney Bean.

The event came as a result of a discussion of the increase in female leadership at a recent Main Street Elizabethton merchants’ meeting.
“As we talked, we realized there has been tremendous growth in women-led businesses in our downtown. We have 145 business/organizations downtown, excluding city/county buildings and housing. Out of those 145, 71 are owned by women, which accounts for 49 percent.
“That is certainly something to celebrate,” she added, “so we decided to come together this morning to recognize these women and their success and also to celebrate International Women’s Day.”
The number of female-led businesses and companies in Elizabethton has grown rapidly and recently, Bean said, with 30 of those 71 businesses coming to the downtown within the past five years.
While women-owned companies are continuing to grow throughout the United States, the percentage of growth locally skews the national average, based on statistics.
According to the most recent data provided by the United States Census Bureau, the number of women-owned employer firms has increased 0.6% from 2017 to 2018.
In Elizabethton’s downtown, according to Main Street Elizabethton’s data, women-owned businesses have increased by a staggering 43 percent from 2017 to 2022.
The list of services and goods provided by these businesses is long and diverse, ranging from everything from sporting goods, food, furniture and clothing to antiques, gifts, certified public accounting and real estate services.
Frankie Bailey, owner of Elizabethton’s Coffee Company and president of the Main Street Elizabethton Board of Directors, credits the community’s welcoming attitude with the growth.
“I think this Elizabethton community is a fostering environment where women feel safe and accepted, welcomed and encouraged, and I think that’s important,” Bailey said. “In any situation, it’s important to not feel alone.
“This is a really empowering environment and it is exciting to see a group of women who are working together, doing amazing things, and supporting one another.”
Bailey, who also serves on the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce board and is active in several other community groups, says she believes this is just the beginning.
“I think just automatically we will continue to attract more women to our business community,” she said. “They’re hearing about us, they’re meeting us, they’re seeing it and then they’re wanting to be a part of it.

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