Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions that are not covered below, contact us at InnerCity100@icic.org.

General

What is the Inner City 100?

Harvard Business School Professor Dr. Michael E. Porter founded the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) in 1994 to spotlight the competitive advantages of America’s under-resourced communities and spur ongoing economic revitalization. Initially, Dr. Porter was met with widespread skepticism. Many doubted that sustainable small business ecosystems could flourish in these communities.

In 1999, ICIC created the Inner City 100 (IC100) – a national award that identifies and celebrates the 100 fastest-growing businesses in underserved neighborhoods. Since then, over 1,000 companies have been recognized as IC100 winners. These businesses have brought good jobs and economic revitalization to their neighborhoods and are a testament to the competitive business advantages of under-resourced communities and an inspiration to entrepreneurs nationwide.

How are the 2021 IC100 winners selected and ranked?

Companies on the 2021 IC100 are selected and ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2016 to 2020. To qualify, a business/owner must:

  • Be an independently-operated company (not a subsidiary or division of another company) that was incorporated by January 2016 and have recorded a full-year of revenue in 2016
  • Be a privately-owned, for-profit company that is not a bank or holding company
  • Be headquartered in an under-resourced community *
  • Have revenues of at least $50,000 in 2016 and have grown to at least $500,000 in 2020 and be the same legal entity throughout those four years. **

* ICIC defines an under-resourced community to include areas of concentrated poverty within city centers and secondary/gateway cities.

** ICIC has lowered the revenue criteria from $100,000 and $1,000,000 to $50,000 and $500,000, respectively, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s prolonged economic and financial impact on the small business ecosystem.

Additionally, IC100 winners are catalysts of opportunity, optimism, and transformation in under-resourced communities. Thus, businesses or owners that are currently under criminal conviction or engaged in or supporting any activity that is illegal under federal, state, or local law are not eligible. Similarly, businesses engaged in activities that are harmful to the local community (e.g. predatory lending) are not eligible.

Will my revenues and four-year revenue growth rate be published?

Yes. Your 2020 revenue and four-year revenue growth will be published in the 2021 IC100 list as well as in any editorial coverage of your business.

What are the IC100 special awards? How do I apply for them?

Every year, ICIC chooses three IC100 winners to receive the following awards:

  • Business Growth Award: This award recognizes the fastest growing business on the 2021 Inner City 100 list. Selection and ranking are based on percentage revenue growth from 2016 through 2020.
  • Chevron Dorothy A. Terrell Community Impact Award: Named in honor of ICIC’s former President and CEO, this award recognizes the IC100 company that has the greatest impact on its community through quality job creation and civic engagement.
  • FedEx Champion of Global Entrepreneurship Award: This award recognizes an Inner City 100 company for its embodiment of FedEx’s commitment to diversity, global trade, empowering entrepreneurs, and creating employment opportunities.

Eligibility

Does my company have to be profitable to be eligible?

No. The IC100 is determined solely by revenue growth; profitability is not a consideration. We will be using your reported revenue to calculate your growth rate.

My business’s revenue declined in 2016 or 2020. Does that disqualify my business or make it unwise to apply?

Not necessarily. We look at the overall four-year growth rate from 2016 through 2020 compared with that of the other IC100 applicants. Among last year’s IC100 winners, year-to-year declines were acceptable and common. However, your company should be reporting higher revenue numbers in 2020 than 2016 to be considered. Companies who show lower revenue in 2020 than in 2016 are not eligible for the award.

My company is public. Can I apply?

Public companies are not eligible for the IC100.

How does ICIC determine whether a business is located in an under-resourced community?

ICIC defines an under-resourced community as an area of concentrated poverty within city centers and secondary/gateway cities. When you submit the initial application, we will run your headquarters’ address to determine whether your company is located in an under-resourced community.

Application Process

What is the overall application process?
  1. Complete the initial application to determine whether your company meets the eligibility criteria by Sunday, June 6.
    1. Apply early in order to be eligible for the early application benefits and to ensure that you make all deadlines.
    2. If you do not have a final figure for your 2020 revenue when you fill out the initial application, you may enter an estimate and provide us with the more precise figure when you submit your verification materials.
  2. Complete the extended application and submit revenue verification materials to confirm your 2016 and 2020 revenue figures by Sunday, July 11.
    1. Only companies that meet the eligibility criteria will be invited to this stage of the application process.
    2. After you submit verification to support your revenue numbers, you may not withdraw from consideration for the 2021 IC100.
    3. If you are concerned that your final 2020 revenue figures will not be available in time, email us at InnerCity100@icic.org.
  3. In August, ICIC will inform all finalists via email as to whether they have been selected as an IC100 winner. Ranking will not be revealed until the National Conference in December.
    1. Winners are required to submit marketing materials (e.g. company description, company photos, CEO’s headshot, etc.) that will be used for editorial coverage.
    2. Any photos submitted to ICIC need to be of high resolution.
  4. ICIC will publish the 2021 IC100 list on Thursday, December 9, the final day of the annual National Conference.
    1. Winners will receive their physical award prior to the conference.
    2. ICIC will publicize and distribute the list to media channels throughout the country. We will also provide a press release template that winners can use to let local media outlets know of their placement on the 2021 IC100 list.
What does the extended application ask for?

The extended application takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. It contains questions related to:

  • Demographic profile of the highest-level senior executive
  • Company profile
  • Total employees, wages, and benefits
  • Customers and sourcing
  • Community engagements.

Additionally, it requires the submission of revenue verification materials.

ICIC recommends that the highest-level senior executive fills out the extended application.

How does ICIC define revenue?

ICIC defines revenue as gross revenue, less returns, and allowances before any cost of goods sold. Revenues can be recorded on either a cash or accrual basis of accounting. However, your 2016 and 2020 revenue figures need to be recorded on the same basis, be under the same legal entity, and be consistent with revenue numbers shown in verification materials you submit as part of the extended application.

If you do not have a final figure for your 2020 revenue when you fill out the initial application, you may enter an estimate and provide us with the more precise figure when you submit your verification materials.

What is revenue verification?

To ensure the integrity and credibility of the IC100 list, we carefully verify the 2016 and 2020 revenue numbers for every finalist.

There are three kinds of revenue verification. You only need to choose one.

  • Revenue Verification Form: Revenue verification will be requested in the format of a digital signature from your CEO and a co-signer with one of the following certifications: Certified Public Accountant, Chartered Financial Analyst, Certified Management Accountant, IRS Certified Enrolled Agent, or Attorney. Download the PDF Revenue Verification Form.
  • 2016 and 2020 Tax Returns: Please include the first two pages of the return. Feel free to redact any figure below line 1C of Form 1120/1065 or Part 1, Line 3 of a Schedule C.
  • Audited Financial Statements: When submitting financial statements, please include the accounting opinion letter and income statement from financial statements that have been audited, reviewed, or compiled by an independent accounting firm. Please note that we will not accept financial statements which are not accompanied by a letter by a credentialed third-party.
If my fiscal year doesn’t end in December, what sales numbers should I fill in for each year?

We ask all applicants to submit their revenue figures for full calendar years. Companies with non-calendar fiscal years should complete our revenue verification form for verification, rather than tax forms or audits. Please make sure the revenue figures entered on the form are for calendar years 2016 and 2020.

Who will see my application data?

The initial and extended applications ask for confidential business information, which ICIC uses to evaluate your eligibility for the IC100. All information and documents submitted at each stage of the application process will be fully protected. Access to them will be strictly limited to ICIC personnel and our auditing partner AAFCPAs. If your company becomes a 2021 IC100 winner, its 2020 revenue and four-year revenue growth rate will be published part of your company profile.

The applications also ask for personal information such as the applicant’s name and contact information. We use your personal information for contact purposes. This personal information may be shared with ICIC program sponsors, nominating partners, and other program participants. You can opt out of having your personal information shared via the first two questions we ask in the extended application or by emailing InnerCity100@icic.org.

Additional information about how we use your personal information and your rights regarding your personal information can be found in ICIC’s complete privacy policy, which is available here.

What will happen to my 2016 and 2020 tax returns after the 2021 IC100 program cycle?

Once the 2021 IC100 award list is published, we will delete all tax returns that were submitted as part of the extended application process.


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