The Seattle Economy Is Buoyed by Family-Owned Businesses

The share of family-owned firms in the metro area ranks among the highest in the nation, new study shows
Updated: Wed, 02/05/2020 - 09:54
 
 
  • The share of family-owned firms in the metro area ranks among the highest in the nation, new study shows
Mark Canlis, top, with brother Brian, own Canlis restaurant in Seattle, which earned the Legacy Award as part of Seattle Business’ 2019 Family Business Awards.

The Seattle metro area has the fourth-largest share of family-owned businesses among major U.S. cities ― as a percentage of total companies in the market ― and ranks sixth among major metros based on the total number of family-owned firms, a new study reports.

In Seattle’s case, the study found that 17,263 companies qualify as family-owned businesses, or 34.8% of all companies in the metro area. Ranking first in the study was Phoenix, with 15,016 family-owned companies, or a 38% share of all businesses in the metro area. 

Trailing Phoenix in the No. 2 spot was Sacramento, California, 36.6%; followed by Riverside, California, 35.6%. Portland, Oregon, ranked just behind Seattle at No. 5, with family-owned firms representing 34.1% of all companies in the metro area. The share of family-owned businesses across all metro areas analyzed in the study averaged 29%.

Based on the total number of family-owned business, Seattle’s mark of 17,263, gives it a sixth place showing among the 50 metro areas analyzed. Ranking ahead of Seattle on that measure are New York, with 54,450 family-owned companies; Los Angeles, 48,538; Chicago, 27,757; Miami, 20,428; and Dallas, 20,157. All of those metro areas, however, rank below Seattle in terms of family-owned businesses as a percentage of all companies, with the closest being Dallas, at No. 19.

The study was conducted by online lending platform LendingTree, which analyzed 2016 Census Bureau data across 50 major U.S. metro areas to compile the rankings. A family-owned business was defined as a company in which two or more people from the same family own a majority stake.

Some 60% of the U.S. workforce is employed by family-owned businesses and they create 78% of all new jobs, according to a 2018 report by the nonprofit business-mentoring organization SCORE. Seattle Business magazine each year honors Washington family-owned businesses by sponsoring the Family Business Awards.

From Everett-based Pocock Racing Shells which has been family owned since 1911 ― to Rowley Properties Inc. of Issaquah, which is now a fourth-generation family owned firm, the 14 winning companies honored in the recent 2019 Family Business Awards reflect the strength of the Seattle area’s business environment and its high ranking in the LendingTree study.

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