Article Topics



Networking and Building Connections


ICIC's Building for Growth (BFG) program joined ICIC's Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN) in California, where they hosted information sessions in Oakland and Sacramento to launch the 2024 BFG application. In the two years since the program’s start, BFG has served 166 construction firms from 29 states. Graduates from the inaugural cohort saw incredible success, raising $5.4 million in total capital, increasing their bonding capacity by an average of 156%, and increasing their backlog by an average of 101%. The information sessions, which were held in conjunction with small business networking events hosted by ICAN, marked the first time that construction owners had the opportunity to network in-person with program staff and alumni before applying. Steve Lamar, BFG Program Director, shared how the program is specifically designed to help later-stage construction companies reach their next level, outlining the unique aspects of the program, such as classes taught by successful industry practitioners, learning with a group of peers from across the nation, and having access to digital and human resources that remain available after completing the course. Building for Growth alumni also offered comments, eagerly expressing the impact of the program on their companies. Read More


Connectivity: A New Place-Based Strategy for Distressed Communities

Howard Wial and Christiana McFarland

Regional economic connectivity is an economic, workforce, and community development strategy that focuses on industry clusters that are thriving in the broader region and establishing them within under-resourced communities (URCs). To better understand how well and under which circumstances distressed communities benefit from regional economic connectivity, ICIC and SRI examined geographic patterns of industry cluster employment in 181 metropolitan areas using a combination of data analysis and case study evidence. The result of this study is the new report Regional Economic Connectivity: A Strategy to Build Opportunity in Distressed Communities. Findings in the report indicate that URC economic connectivity is more prevalent in small and medium-sized metropolitan areas, suburban URCs, clusters that are highly specialized regionally, manufacturing-based clusters, clusters with low educational requirements for entry-level workers, and lower-wage clusters. The report also indicates a significant opportunity for economic developers and their partners to target asset development and other strategic investments to grow regionally strong clusters in URCs. Read More


Building a Support Network: Entrepreneurs Gain Access to Free Resources through ICIC’s Inner City Alumni Network


Feeling isolated is a sentiment shared by many small business owners. ICIC created the Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN) as a resource for small business owners to connect with each other for collaboration and moral support, to provide ongoing learning and professional development opportunities after completing a technical assistance program, and to aid in giving visibility and recognition to members. ICAN is a vibrant community comprised of 8,000+ alumni from the United States and Canada who have completed at least one of the seven small business technical assistance programs offered by ICIC. Connecting to an international community of small business owners is just the start of what ICAN offers its members. ICAN also offers access to educational resources, local chapters, steering committee membership, referrals to ecosystem partners, and priority invitations to new small business initiatives. Read More


What’s Mouji Boulanger’s Why? Access


Mouji Boulanger is the founder and president of Create, Enjoy, Inspire, Inc. (CEI), a woman-owned construction company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Boulanger focuses on building people first and then building the business. CEI helps tradespeople without college degrees advance into leadership roles in project management and superintendent positions. Her commitment to her mission and her community has led to the success of her business. CEI's four-year growth rate of 3,719.70% earned the company the number two ranking in its debut appearance on ICIC's Inner City 100 Awards list in 2023. While attending the awards ceremony, Boulanger was elated to find that she had finally found her community of like-minded business people. Her story is a testament to the fact that success comes when you focus on building relationships, helping people grow, and working towards a greater purpose. Read More


A Year of Recognition: Members of ICIC’s Alumni Network Receive Local and National Awards


The small business awards season is a time for entrepreneurs to be honored by various organizations, societies, and government agencies. ICIC’s Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN) members excelled during the 2023 awards season, receiving prestigious local and national awards. Among the award winners were:

  • Kimberly Black, CEO and President, Trusted Field Services
  • Cassandria Campbell, CEO, Fresh Food Generation
  • Lawrence Charles, Founder, Charles and Company
  • David Delancy, Owner and CEO, One Day Came
  • Vicki Gray, Founder and CEO, New Chapter HI Services
  • Cuong Quy “CQ” Huynh, Co-Founder, General Manager, and Treasurer, Rende Progress Capital
  • Louise Leduc Kennedy, Founding Attorney, West Hill Technology Counsel, Inc.
  • Pamela Nelson, Founder and CEO, Bracane Company
  • Caron Ng, CEO, NU-SET Inc.
  • Liseth Velez, Founder and CEO, LJV Development
The 2024 season will begin just before May and conclude in December. However, there are a few organizations that have already announced honorees. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) revealed the 14 winners of its 2024 Star Award, three of which are ICAN members: Michele Adams, CEO and President of Levy Recognition; Louise Leduc Kennedy, Founding Attorney of West Hill Technology Counsel, Inc.; and Barb Smith, President of Journey Steel. Read More


ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents.


PO Box 191297
Roxbury MA 02119
Phone: 617-238-1740

Stay Connected

Sign up for our mailings and stay up-to-date on all research, commentary, and news related to ICIC as we continue to drive inclusive economic prosperity in America’s under-resourced communities.

Sign Up

© 2024 ICIC. All rights reserved.

Terms of Use    Privacy Policy