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“Why I Nominate for ICIC’s Small Business Programs”

by Richard Escalante, Baltimore Development Corporation.

“It takes a village.”

We’ve all heard this saying, but how does it apply to efforts supporting small businesses in America’s inner cities? Economic development partners know that helping small businesses means in return helping their cities through sustained job growth and economic stimulus.
Today’s entrepreneurs are the job creators of tomorrow. It’s amazing to see how an idea can be nurtured to grow into a flourishing business. But in my experience, a business only flourishes if it has access to the right resources supporting its growth.
One of the resources available to the economic development community is ICIC’s Inner City 100 program. Every year for the past fifteen years, ICIC has promoted the fastest-growing businesses located in inner cities through the publication of the Inner City 100 list. ICIC finds these deserving inner city firms with the help of nominating partners from across the U.S. The winning businesses are then recognized with a
publication in FORTUNE and with a celebratory awards event.
The annual Inner City 100 Symposium and Awards creates an environment to foster and encourage interaction with fellow entrepreneurs from every industry. At the event, businesses have access to additional support resources, including networking sessions, seminars on business best practices, and executive education sessions taught by Harvard Business School faculty.
The Baltimore Development Corporation has actively nominated winning firms (Marlin Steel Wire, Intelect Corp and Ellicott Dredges to name a few) and is the reigning Inner City 100 Nominator of the Year. Although we’re proud to be recognized, the real reward is knowing that Baltimore City’s companies benefit from this national recognition.
I have the opportunity to meet new and interesting businesses every day. My efforts to help companies begin with listening and noting what their concerns are and either providing resources or referring them to the appropriate resources. ICIC’s initiatives to help urban businesses (they also offer Inner City Capital Connections and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses) expand the support programs that I
can offer to the businesses I meet.
I keep a running list of companies that would benefit from program nominations and by the end of the year I have an extensive list of candidates to submit to ICIC. I would encourage every economic development professional to build a relationship with ICIC, so the businesses in their communities can utilize these resources. Nominating deserving businesses makes an impact, and the end result is a stronger, more prosperous “village.”
Nominations for the 2014 Inner City 100 are now open. Nominate a small business in your network.

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