Factors Affecting the Success of Female and Minority Rural Entrepreneurs and Rural Economic Vitality

Prior research suggests that expanding entrepreneurship or self-employment is a key strategy for promoting economic growth in rural, distressed regions. Furthermore, self-employment rates of women and minorities (especially Blacks) have lagged those of White males in rural areas. This project, led by West Virginia University, seeks to understand the factors that support or deter women and minority entrepreneurship and to translate these findings to help key stakeholders develop policies and programs to support women and minority entrepreneurs. Our objectives include 1) identifying the factors associated with higher shares of women and minority self-employed in rural counties using unique proprietary data; 2) examining the factors associated with the success or failure of women and minority entrepreneurs using confidential firm-level micro data; and 3) translating the research findings into Extension programming to support rural women and minority entrepreneurship and promote broad rural prosperity.

Funding Agency: USDA NIFA

Principal Investigator: Heather Stephens

Lead Institution: West Virginia University

Accompanying Institution(s): University of Maine, NERCRD

Start Date: May, 2023   End Date: May, 2026

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