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Analysis: entrepreneurship in Alabama at an all-time high


Entrepreneurship is on the rise in Alabama, especially among the Black community, Gen-Z, Millennials and women. That’s according to an analysis of websites registered with a popular web hosting platform.

A researcher from The University of Alabama partnered with GoDaddy’s Venture Forward to understand Alabama’s micro businesses, the landscape of digital entrepreneurs and the challenges that entrepreneurs had.

Dr. Nyesha Black is the director of demographics at The University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research. She said the research provides data that other studies might leave out.

“It gives us insight into a demographic or an important factor in the economy that we typically don't pick up on some of our national economic indicators,” she explained. “So, it really gives us a sense of activity among this group who is overlooked, to be quite frank, when we are doing studies or trying to understand Alabama's economy.”

Understanding digital entrepreneurs in Alabama is a novel line of inquiry. Dr. Black said the study is the first to use Go Daddy's Venture Forward Initiative to better understand the nuances of digital entrepreneurs in the state of Alabama.

She said the findings provide a sense of where businesses are located at the zip code level across the state, track the data across time and show where there’s a growth or decline in businesses registered to their domain. Coupled with a surveyed, researchers were able to explore the attitudes, aspirations and challenges of entrepreneurs.

Other results from the research study suggest that diversity in microbusiness owners keeps increasing. Alexandra Rosen is the Senior Director of Venture Forward at GoDaddy. She said that Black entrepreneurs are of the largest groups in the state.

“Black owned micro businesses also increased and are one of the fastest growing demographics across the state, with currently 30% of all Alabama online micro businesses, as of January 2023, being reported when surveyed as owned by black entrepreneurs,” Rosen explained.

Dr. Black complemented Rosen’s statement by saying the state’s rate of entrepreneurship among Black entrepreneurs, particularly in the digital space, is higher than the national average.

“We also see that looking at those who started before the pandemic or before 2020, there's more diversity showing up through the age,” said Rosen. The study showed that Gen-Z and Millennial entrepreneurship doubled from 23% at the start of 2020 to 43% in 2023.

Another trend seen from the study is that although a lot of women are known to have left the workforce, women owned microbusinesses have grown at a fast rate. Rosen said that in Alabama, female micro business owners outnumber men, nearly two to one, there are over 61%.

In Alabama, Venture Forward estimates that there are over 150,000 online ventures — businesses with GoDaddy-registered domains and active websites. Most of the ventures are microbusinesses with fewer than ten employees.

“Technology reduces the barrier of entry into entrepreneurship in the digital space,” Dr. Black said. “It became increasingly important for me to quantify the impact these entrepreneurs have on Alabama’s communities and economy. Through our partnership with Venture Forward by GoDaddy, I hope to attract the attention of local decision-makers willing to act and support these entrepreneurs and further the case to increase broadband access and speed across the state.”

To learn more about Venture Forward’s partnership with The University of Alabama and Dr. Black and to view the full results of the Alabama survey, click here:

Valentina Mora is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She is an international student from Colombia at The University of Alabama. She is majoring in Communicative Disorders and Foreign Languages and Literature. She is part of the Blount Scholars Program and is also pursuing a minor in Music. Although she is not studying to become a journalist, Valentina enjoys reporting, interviewing and writing stories.
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