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Blog: ICAN


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


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


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


Navigating the Social Media Landscape: Insights from Industry Experts


ICIC offered alumni the opportunity to explore the dynamic realm of social media marketing through insights shared by industry leaders in a recent ICAN webinar. From tailored strategies on LinkedIn to the power of storytelling on Instagram, the speakers, including Dianne Austin, Buzz Busbee, and Leo Voloshin, cover diverse approaches. The webinar, moderated by Dina Towbin of Dina Towbin & Associates, highlights the importance of continuous learning, openness to new strategies, and the ever-present value of engaging with your audience in the ever-evolving landscape of social media marketing. Read More


ICAN Steering Committees: How Alumni Entrepreneurs Are Driving Inclusive Growth and Community Empowerment


ICAN, a testament to the success of supporting businesses in underserved communities, exemplifies the transformative impact of ICIC. Quentella Enty and T.J. Douglas, alumni of various ICIC programs, now serve as ICAN steering committee members - expert advisors, mentors, and collaborators for businesses needing additional support to thrive in today's dynamic economic landscape. Enty, Vice President of KFA Inc. and member of ICAN’s Chicago Steering Committee, emphasizes the importance of scaling businesses that are the backbone of the American economy, creating jobs, and advocating for communities. Douglas, founder of The Urban Grape and member of the Boston ICAN Steering Committee, shares his journey of building a successful retail and e-commerce enterprise, leveraging ICIC programs like Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC). Both Enty and Douglas actively contribute to ICAN, fostering a network of empowered business leaders facing similar challenges and promoting inclusive economic growth and community empowerment. Read More


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