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Job growth for women business owners in Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn--Welcome to Alcenia's soul food restaurant in the Pinch District.

BJ Chester-Tamayo is the restaurant owner.

"You're today in the world's great soul food restaurant, not America, not Memphis, but the world. The reason Alcenia's on Main Street is the greatest is because of the food,"  Chester-Tamayo said.

For 19 years, Chester-Tamayo has given Alcenia's food its soul and love to meet customers from all over the world.

The restaurant is packed on this day, but Chester-Tamayo said it hasn't always been easy.

"I had never worked in a restaurant and didn't have any experience. It's been hard 19 years, but it's been a great 19 years," she said.

According to two recent studies, it's been a great time for female-owned businesses in Memphis.

The Center for an Urban Future said Memphis leads America's largest cities in women-owned business growth.

A Wallethub study also applauded Memphis and the state of Tennessee for being pro-women.

Deborah Clubb is with the Memphis Area Women's Council.

"We were actually in a Wallethub report that came out a few weeks ago as being very good for women entrepreneurs; Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga," Club said.

But Chester-Tamayo said the recipe for being a successful female business owner isn't always simple.

"It was hard being a woman and African-American. I was starting something like a baby was being born and we had to develop a name and get the support of the city," Chester-Tamayo said.

As for the City of Memphis, questions have been raised recently about the number of city contracts awarded to women and minorities.

"The Memphis chapter of the National Association of Women Business owners and others are looking at government contracts and how they come to minority and women owned business, which is an important economic thing to do," Clubb said.

For now BJ Chester-Tamayo has advice for other women .

"Hopefully, someone will say 'if BJ can do it, I can do it' and don't take no for an answer," Chester-Tamayo.