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Recognizing 100 Businesses Doing Well While Doing Good

Written by Lena Ferguson, ICIC

When Ann Perrault and Jackie Victor started their company,
Avalon International Breads, they had a specific goal in mind. They said, “Our neighborhood, the Cass Corridor of Detroit, is a very underserved neighborhood, so our idea was to start a
business and prove to people and to ourselves that there could be a business that could thrive here, that could do good and do well.”
ICIC’s Inner City 100, our annual FORTUNE-published list of the 100 fastest-growing companies in America’s distressed urban areas, has recognized companies doing good and doing well since 1999. Avalon International Breads, a winner in 2010, is just one of the 750 companies Inner City 100 has celebrated since the list was first published. Inner City 100 winners certainly have done good. Together, they employ over 107,000 people, about half of whom are inner city residents, and have created over 76,000 jobs. And they definitely have done well. The average Inner City 100
winner has a compound annual growth rate of 50%. Each year’s winners collectively generate an average of $2.1 billion in annual sales.
These statistics make evident that companies can not only exist, but thrive in inner cities. But that doesn’t mean their high growth comes easily. We’ve learned that inner city companies tend to be underserved by capital providers and other external stakeholders. That’s where Inner City 100 makes its impact: Being a winner helps these extraordinary companies get the recognition they deserve and the networks they need to continue growing.
Inner City 100’s publication in FORTUNE increases winners’ visibility on a national scale. Past Inner City 100 winners have reported gaining contracts, capital from providers and potential customers and clients because of the list’s publication, as well as increased attraction from potential employees. Larry Closs, CEO of NewBath, an Inner City 100 winner from 2009-2012 and ranked 5th in 2009, said that he “put it on a Craigslist ad: ‘Join the 5th fastest-growing inner city company in America.’ Wow. Response must have tripled from the week before. It sets us apart.”
In addition, Inner City 100’s annual Symposium gives winners the opportunity to attend management education workshops led by Harvard Business School professors and other industry leaders. It also provides winners important opportunities to network with each other. Past winners, like Compass Solutions’ CEO Anthony Onyewuchi, a winner in 2011 and 2013, have stayed in contact with fellow winners after the event and formed advisory and support groups.
 We have learned through the Inner City 100 that high growth in inner cities isn’t concentrated in or limited to a particular industry. To highlight the diversity, this year the Inner City 100 will recognize exceptional companies by industry through a new 10 x 10 format. Instead of a 1 through 100 ranking, the Inner City 100 will highlight the 10 fastest-growing companies in each of the following high-impact industries: Construction; Manufacturing; Professional Services; Food & Beverage; Retail; Media & Communications; Software & Information Technology;
Transportation & Logistics; Healthcare & Biotechnology; and Arts, Entertainment,Recreation & Tourism.
The new 10 x 10 rankings will distinguish the winning companies and their CEOs as both industry and inner city icons. The groupings will provide companies greater visibility for their excellence in their respective industries and provide them a
network of other high-growth companies within the same industry.
At its core, Inner City 100 celebrates its winners’ extraordinary achievement and hard work. As Shazi Visram, CEO of Happy Family, ranked 1st on the Inner City 100 list in 2013, says, “It’s an honor to be recognized for growth. Starting a small business is not an easy thing to do and being on the Inner City 100, it shows that we’ve made it.”
Does your firm or a firm you know deserve to be among the 2014 Inner City 100 winners and receive the national recognition, top-notch training and unique networking opportunities that come along with the honor of being an industry icon? Apply through a brief online application before the May 2nd deadline. We hope to see your company on the list.

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