ING Gazelle Index Survey Reveals Many African-American CEOs Feel Business Activity Increased in 2003

February 23, 2004 Share: Print Subscribe to Email Alerts

One year after ING U.S. Financial Services launched the ING Gazelle Index, a national quarterly survey of 350 CEOs of the nation’s fastest growing African-American-owned businesses with 10-100 employees, year-over-year findings indicate 43.4% of Gazelle CEOs said that business activity was better in 2003 than in 2002.

The Index, conducted by Atlanta-based Boston Research Group for ING U.S. Financial Services, reflects the opinions and outlook of African-American business owners regarding the economy and their current and expected business activity. The Index serves as a guide and forecasting instrument to companies making strategic decisions about hiring, capital expenditures and investments.

In the fourth quarter 2003 survey, Gazelle CEOs were asked to compare 2003 business activity in their company to 2002 activity:

  • 43.4% said that business activity was significantly or slightly better in 2003 than in 2002;
  • 21.7% of Gazelle CEOs indicated that business activity was about the same; and
  • 34.6% said that business activity was worse than in 2002.

“When looking over the past year and comparing the results of the Gazelle Index from fourth quarter 2002 to fourth quarter 2003, it is interesting to see that leading African-American business owners have for the most part, continued to remain optimistic about current and future business and economic conditions. As the economy has continued to grow and hiring plans have increased, it is no surprise that business activity for Gazelle CEOs has increased as well,” said Allan Baker, Head of Brand Management, ING U.S. Financial Services.

Most Attractive Locations for African-American-Owned Businesses

In this quarter’s ING Gazelle Index, Gazelle CEOs were asked to identify the metropolitan area they felt was the best location for fast growing African American-owned businesses. With a response of 27.1%, Atlanta was by far the leading area, followed by Washington/Baltimore (14.3%), Houston (5.4%), Los Angeles (3.4%) and New York (3.4%). Gazelles were also asked to identify a location, different from their current location that is most attractive if they were to consider starting a new business or expanding their current business. Georgia ranked first by more than a two to one margin (20.3%) and was followed by Florida (8.9%), California (5.1%), Texas (4.9%) and North Carolina (4.6%).

Entrepreneurial Satisfaction

The fourth quarter results reveal that an overwhelming majority of Gazelle CEOs are more satisfied as business owners than employees. When asked to compare their level of satisfaction as a business owner to working for someone else, 86.6% indicated that they are more satisfied, while only 3.7% indicated that they were less satisfied.

“Well over three-fourths of the Gazelle CEOs are more satisfied as business owners than they were as employees,” said Baker. “The third quarter 2003 Gazelle Index results found that many of the CEOs left their previous jobs not solely because they were dissatisfied with their careers, but because many wanted control over their career opportunities and future. From the results, it looks as though many of them are quite pleased with their decision.”

President’s Economic Management

As the 2004 presidential elections are fast approaching and the Democratic candidates are on the campaign trail to run against President Bush, the fourth quarter 2003 ING Gazelle Index asked CEOs if they feel the President’s policies have the economy on the right track. About two-thirds of these CEOs (68.3%) stated that the economy is not on the right track. This percentage is down slightly from 71.0% in the third quarter of 2003.

Overall Economic Confidence and State Level Confidence

The fourth quarter 2003 Gazelle Index value of 56.8 represents the third consecutive quarterly increase and the third quarter in which the Index has been greater than 50; meaning CEO outlook is more positive than negative. The low point of the Index (37.9) was reached during the first quarter 2003.

The fourth quarter report also provides information on the Gazelle Index values for selected states. The states registering the highest values are Maryland (69.5), California (68.4), Virginia (61.4) and Texas (60.4). States where business outlook is more negative than positive are Georgia (44.4) and New York (30.7).

Gazelle Index Components

The Gazelle Index value is based on the average of four sub-component values. The increase in the overall Index during the fourth quarter reflects the fact that three of four sub-components comprising the Index were in the positive range while only one indicator remained in the negative range. The indicator was company employment today versus six months ago.

The ING Gazelle Index is derived from averaging the Index value to four questions regarding business activity and confidence of African-American business owners. These questions are:

1. In your opinion are economic conditions better today than six months ago?

  • During the fourth quarter 2003, this component of the Index (53.0) was more positive than negative. This reflected the fact that 35.1% of Gazelle CEOs indicated that conditions were better while only 31.1% indicated conditions were not as good. The third quarter value of this component was 47.4.

2. In looking six months into the future, are you more optimistic or more pessimistic about the economy?

  • The component value for optimism about the economy six months into the future increased to 76.4, up from 69.0 from the third quarter of 2003. This reflects the fact that 71.4% were more optimistic while only 22.0% are more pessimistic.

3. Is business activity in your company better today than six months ago?

  • The Index value of this component measured 58.3, down slightly from 61.7 in the third quarter of 2003. Thirty-six percent of the Gazelle CEOs indicated that their business was doing better today than six months ago while 25.7% indicated that activity was not as good.

4. As compared to six months ago, has employment in your company increased, decreased or remained the same?

  • The fourth quarter Index value for employment was 39.5, down from 42.2 the previous quarter. The more negative than positive value for this component reflects the fact that only 20.7% of CEOs indicated that employment in their company is higher than 6 months ago, while 30.6% said that it is lower.

According to the Economic Census data, there are more than 880,000 African-American business owners in the United States, up 46% over a 5-year period. Majority-owned firms have grown only 24% during the same timeframe.

Visit, to review the full report and click into the minds of CEOs of the nation’s fastest growing African-American-owned businesses.

About ING

ING’s U.S. Financial Services operations [] offers a comprehensive array of products and services, including mutual funds; fixed and variable annuities; retirement programs; financial planning; employee benefits; life insurance; and trust services through a variety of distribution channels. ING U.S. Financial Services is part of Amsterdam-based ING Groep N.V., one of the largest integrated financial services organizations in the world.

About Boston Research Group

Atlanta-based Boston Research Group (BRG), headed by Dr. Thomas Boston, conducted the survey on behalf of ING. BRG identified 609 African-American-owned businesses whose employment increased by a minimum of 5% over the last five years and whose current employment is between 10 and 100 workers. Each quarter 350 of these businesses are surveyed randomly. The survey was constructed to have a margin of error of (+) or (–) 5%. The survey for the fourth quarter ING Gazelle Index was conducted during the last three weeks of January 2004.

In addition to the national ING Gazelle Index results, specific state survey results for California, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Texas and Virginia are available upon request. For more information, contact:

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