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Small Business Focus


The Gazelle Project

A growing body of research shows that fast-growing young businesses—so-called gazelles—play an important role in job creation in the United States. Because not a whole lot is known about the characteristics and attributes of the founders of these businesses, the Atlanta Fed has initiated a project to help fill this gap. The Gazelle Project is collecting qualitative data in a series of face-to-face interviews with southeastern entrepreneurs who started their businesses within the last 13 years. These businesses grew quickly, and the founders helped guide them through the early years.

For the purposes of this project, we are defining a high-growth business as a firm that has grown to have at least 30 employees and $2 million in annual revenue or at least $6 million in annual revenue.

The Gazelle Project has designed interview questions to gather information in the following areas.

  • Human capital: The skills, knowledge, and experience of the individual(s) involved in launching and building the business.
  • Social capital: The network of social and professional relationships that the founder(s) use to identify and access resources.
  • Financial capital: The financing the founder(s) use to begin operations and to facilitate growth.

Additional questions examine the founder's motivation and goals and how the founder has dealt with challenges associated with rapid growth.

This project is scheduled to be completed early in 2014. Atlanta Fed President and CEO Dennis Lockhart briefly described some preliminary results in a September 2013 speech on economic dynamism.

For questions about the project, please contact our small business research group at smallbusinessresearch@atl.frb.org.