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Inner City Entrepreneurs Creating Connections That Count

Family-owned businesses tend to rely on resiliency to sustain their business for the next generation. This is a challenging, if optimistic, approach. For executives to sustainably grow their business, they must be able to weather an ever-changing market. Two standout executives in this position are Kenneth Smedberg, President of Smedberg Machine Co. and Braylon Lester, President of Xtra 21 Express Trucking, exemplary third generation CEOs who are preserving their family legacy and impelling its growth into the 21st Century.

Kenneth and Braylon were same-year participants who came to ICCC to learn how to efficiently run their businesses and respond to current economic demands. On his experience with ICCC, Kenneth recalls, “We got the highest level of education there that you can get—that most people can’t afford to get… We are speaking with a level of intelligence that banks can appreciate. Knowledge is power.”

At one time, Kenneth could only get loans from banks that had known the family since 1952; whereas after ICCC, he benefitted from fruitful negotiations that enabled him to secure the capital he needed to modernize his facilities, take on new contracts, and obtain specialized industry-specific training for his staff.

Braylon attended the ICCC program “wanting to get more knowledge” and ended up fine tuning his growth strategy, increasing his financial know-how, and securing a loan.

Xtra 21 Express Trucking has since been listed as one of the fastest growing companies based in the inner city. He admits, “I didn’t think I would learn what I did: how to value my business, how to explain that value to a customer, and overall different sources of revenue…I was really looking for knowledge and got more than I was looking for.” This is also true for non-family-owned businesses.

Today, over 100 inner city entrepreneurs like Kenneth and Braylon are gathered in New York City to participate in the annual ICCC National Conference.  These entrepreneurs are making connections with capital providers, including private equity, debt, venture capital, and angel investors. The conference, designed to match businesses with potential investors, includes a full day of pitching and networking at FORTUNE headquarters.  This year’s keynote speakers include: Kevin Liles, former president of Def Jam recording; David Weber, Author and President of the NYC Food Truck Association; and Abhishek “Rip” Pruisken, founder of Rip Van Wafels.

Participating companies represent a wide range of industries including technology, consumer goods, business and professional services, healthcare and manufacturing.  Learn more about the businesses participating in ICCC and about their growth stories.  Download the 2014 ICCC Impact Report.

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