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.