Economic Development, Cluster Growth & Evaluation

As the leading authority on inner city economies and the companies that thrive there, ICIC plays a unique role in urban investment and public policy decisions. With business leaders, we speak the language of business advantage and shared value and have a proven track record of working with city leaders to help them develop custom data-driven economic growth plans.

Our proprietary State of the Inner City Economies (SICE) database maps the economic performance, business vitality and resident prosperity of all American cities with a population greater than 75,000, which includes 328 inner cities. SICE is an indispensable resource to assess local competitive advantages and set strategies for inclusive economic growth. View a full list of the 328 cities in the U.S. with inner cities here.

Clusters are sets of related and interconnected industries operating within a specific geography. One can think of the automotive cluster in Detroit or the technology cluster in Silicon Valley. Clusters represent a region’s competitive assets and as such form a solid foundation for economic growth.

At ICIC, we conduct comprehensive industry assessments as part of our economic development advisory work to identify clusters with the highest potential to promote business growth and entrepreneurship. We partner with the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project to support our cluster analysis. Read our new Playbook for Cluster Growth, the first practical guide for city leaders on how to initiative cluster development: Accelerating Cluster Growth: A Playbook for City Leaders (2015).

We believe that clusters should help organize all economic development initiatives, including business development (see The Missing Link: Clusters, Small Business Growth and Vibrant Urban Economies, 2015).

ICIC’s Research & Advisory team also provides professional evaluation services grounded in our deep knowledge of non-profit organizations, small businesses and economic development. We have specific expertise in surveying businesses and entrepreneurs. For 18 years, ICIC has designed and fielded a survey of its Inner City 100 firms to capture insights about urban entrepreneurship, business growth, job creation, access to capital, supplier networks, and workforce development. Our 2014 report A Roadmap for Inner City Business Data Collection highlights strategies for collecting robust data on small businesses. As a partner on JPMorgan Chase’s Small Business Forward initiative, ICIC annually conducts a comprehensive evaluation of the organizations and the businesses the program supports in an effort to measure their performance and impact.

Below is a selection of ICIC’s past economic development research and advisory projects:

UMEZ: Channeling Growth and Opportunities to Upper Manhattan Residents (2014)

Increasing Economic Opportunity In Distressed Urban Communities With EB-5 (2014)

A Roadmap for Inner City Business Data Collection (2014)

Building an Inclusive Tech Economy: Internship Programs that Connect Inner City Workers to Jobs in the Technology Sector (2014)

Growing Healthy Economies: Leveraging America’s Urban Food Cluster (2013)

Prosperity NOLA: A Plan to Drive Economic Growth for 2018 (2013)

An Industrial Strategy for the City of St. Paul (2012)

The Promise of Local Clusters (2011)

Realizing the Inner City Retail Opportunity: Progress and New Directions (2007)

Opportunity Newark: Jobs and Community (2007)

Initiative for a Competitive Brooklyn: Seizing Our Moment (2005)

West Louisville Competitive Assessment and Strategy Project (2002)

The Changing Models of Inner City Grocery Retailing (2002)

The Business Case for Pursuing Retail Opportunities in the Inner City (1998)



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