Urban Business Initiatives

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) research shows that supporting the growth of small businesses serving and/or in underserved and under-resourced is the most effective strategy for increasing employment in these locations. These companies hire a significantly higher share of residents from their communities than their counterparts.

Contrary to conventional thinking, businesses in these areas include more than just small, locally-owned businesses (the proverbial “mom-and-pop” shops). Nine percent of all U.S. business establishments are located in the urban core and the size distribution of these firms is similar to all U.S. firms. The average firm size in the underserved and under-resourced communities (19 employees) is 27% higher than in the U.S. as a whole.

ICIC’s urban networks and nationally recognized small business programs are designed to identify and support the growth of businesses in under-resourced and underserved communities. These businesses are thriving, but they can be difficult to find. Our research shows they are often missing in public and proprietary data sets.

Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women: Black in Business (BIB): In response to the increasing number of Black women sole proprietors and the disadvantages they face, this program teaches participants how to price their products or services, hire employees, understand finances, and so much more. The One Million Black Women: Black in Business curriculum was designed in partnership with 1863 Ventures and is a blended program offered through face-to-face sessions at Goldman Sachs HQ in NYC and virtually over 12 weeks, both at no cost to participants across the country.

BIPOC Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (bETA): BIPOC Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (bETA) is an 8-week program designed to give BIPOC entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in Rhode Island the knowledge, tools, and access to the capital they need to acquire and run an already existing and successful small business.

Santander Bank’s Cultivate Small Business (CSB): Cultivate Small Business is designed to help early-stage entrepreneurs in low-income neighborhoods build and sustain their businesses, with a focus on women, minority, and immigrant-owned businesses in food-related industries. The program provides industry-specific education, networks, mentoring, and small capital grants for business owners.

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Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB): ICIC partners with Goldman Sachs to identify high-potential entrepreneurs for the 10,000 Small Businesses initiative. The program connects business owners in underserved communities to a comprehensive program of education and support. The program has served more than 10,000 small business owners in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and  Puerto Rico.

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Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC): Inner City Capital Connections, launched in 2005 in partnership with Bank of America, helps match investment-ready inner city companies with growth capital. The program has served 3,836 businesses that have raised over $2.3 billion in capital.

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Building for Growth (BFG): Building for Growth (BFG) is a new tuition-free executive education program designed by ICIC that aims to help BIPOC and woman construction subcontractors build capacity and develop sustainable growth strategies that position their businesses to increase revenues and profits. BFG’s inaugural cohort will begin in Spring 2022 with a maximum class size of 50.

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Succession Ready (SR): The Succession Ready (SR) program is designed to help small business owners develop and navigate a successful succession plan for their businesses. This series of five three-hour educational workshops are provided for free to participants.

Inner City 100 (IC100) Award: The Inner City 100 has recognized and celebrated the fastest-growing businesses in under-resourced communities in the U.S. each year since 1999. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2023, the list is published annually and unveiled at our annual national education and awards conference in December. Inner City 100 winners include today’s most creative entrepreneurs, including: Printfresh, Sisters Traveling Solo, Happy Family, Revolution Foods, and TerraCycle.

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We also offer virtual education programs and resources for CEOs in underserved and under-resourced communities. Our webinar series features insights from senior executives sharing their unique expertise in a variety of topics. This free interactive series can help your company succeed in today’s urban marketplace.

Contact us to learn more about joining a program cohort.

Learn more about partnering with ICIC on our mission to support the growth of businesses in under-resourced communities.


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

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