Inner City Business Growth

Through more than two decades of research and practice, ICIC has identified four critical drivers of inner city business growth: improving access to capital; providing management and business education for business owners; increasing company recognition and strengthening business networks; and expanding revenue and contracting opportunities.

ICIC leverages proprietary inner city business data collected from our three urban business initiatives to identify critical drivers of inner city business growth and the unique attributes that make inner cities great places to do business. We survey the fastest-growing inner city companies annually and capture important information on how inner city companies access capital. We have developed a network of more than 12,000 inner city companies and thousands of organizations that support inner city businesses in every major city across the country.

Our research focuses on providing resources to both inner city entrepreneurs and economic development professionals to support the development of urban business. Our most recent partnership with JPMorgan Chase’s Small Business Forward initiative has led to critical new resources for urban entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them.

Our 2014 report The Missing Link: Clusters, Small Business Growth and Vibrant Urban Economies was a framing document for the Small Business Forward initiative. The Missing Link offers an analysis of small business development strategies in the nation’s ten largest cities.  In the report, ICIC makes the case for cities to align economic development strategies for supporting clusters and small businesses.

Our latest report, and next in this series, The Big Impact of Small Businesses on Urban Job Creation: Evidence from Five Cities (2016), presents an analysis of jobs created by businesses with less than 250 employees in five cities—Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. We find that small businesses, in terms of job creation, rival the impact of large businesses, and are a critical source of jobs for residents, especially in inner city neighborhoods. City leaders need to support small business growth in their cities with the same resources and intentionality that is devoted to the attraction and retention of large businesses. In this report, we outline a playbook with five strategies city leaders should implement to maximize small business job creation in their cities. Read Next City‘s take on this research in a recent post, Where Small Businesses are Powering Inner City Neighborhoods, and learn more via our blog in Governing

Read about how our research is informing JPMorgan Chase’s Small Business Forward initiative in The Atlantic’s blogs, Cities Need Small Business Growth Strategies, and Incubating Progress, One Small Business at a Time.

Financing Growth: A Practical Resource Guide for Small Businesses (2015), sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co., is designed as a practical and concise guide for businesses exploring outside capital sources. Today’s entrepreneurs have perhaps more capital options to choose from than at any other time in history, with new financial products and organizations being created each year. While this influx is exciting, it complicates an already complicated issue for entrepreneurs: How can businesses find the “right” capital to support their growth?

Creating Inclusive High-Tech Incubators and Accelerators: Strategies to Increase Participation Rates of Women and Minority Entrepreneurs, also sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co., examines strategies through which high-tech incubators and accelerators can  increase the participation rates of women and minority entrepreneurs. This report highlights the difficulties incubators and accelerators face in trying to increase women and minority participation rates and features case studies of some who have successfully done so.

On October 27th, ICIC hosted a national conversation based on this report at the Roxbury Innovation Center in Boston–an event sponsored by JPMorgan Chase, the Boston Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Centered on what it will take to create more inclusive incubators and accelerators, Catalyzing Inclusivity in Incubators and Accelerators featured an exciting lineup of expert speakers, and convened 150 entrepreneurs and leaders from incubator and accelerators, economic development organizations, foundations and government agencies. You can view the full program here and learn more by reading our recap blog.

You can also learn more about ICIC’s research on inclusivity in incubators and accelerators by listening to our feature in a recent podcast, #AcceleratingInclusivity: Making Business Incubators More Inclusive, hosted by Empowered Lab Communications.


Learn more about ICIC’s Urban Business Initiatives.

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