A listing of the fastest-growing privately held inner-city businesses in America.
Le Corbusier hated city streets. In the middle of the 20th century this influential French architect led his peers in a zealous critical assault on intimate clusters of small-scale urban buildings. Give us towers! cried the modernists. Give us freeways! The Inner City 100 issue gives you streets. In a unique collaboration with Harvard professor Michael E. Porter's nonprofit group, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, we present the 100 fastest-growing businesses in America's urban cores and highlight the methods used to build them. Because of their locations, the companies honored here sometimes find life a little more challenging than many other businesses do. But that has only made them more creative. On the flip side, the CEOs who grew up in these inner-city neighborhoods often find their success -- and their consequent ability to give back to their communities -- more than usually gratifying. Great companies are born in garages and office parks and basements and incubators. And thanks to factors ranging from diverse workforces to innovative investment programs, more and more are born on city streets. Here is a list of the second annual Inner City 100. Our special Inner City 100 area has details on all the companies on the list.-Leigh Buchanan
To qualify for this year's Inner City 100, a company had to--
Be an independent for-profit corporation, partnership, or proprietorship (not a subsidiary or division); regulated banks, utilities, and holding companies were excluded
Be headquartered or have at least 51% of its physical operations in "distressed" urban (inner-city) areas
Have had 10 or more employees in 1998
Have a five-year operating-sales history that included at least six months of revenues in 1994, an increase in 1998 sales over 1997 sales, and 1998 sales of at least $1 million
The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) used several methods to verify that companies met those criteria. In general, ICIC excluded central business districts from its definition of inner city. ICIC evaluated the economic status of each company's location by using the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Geocoding system, which uses census forms to provide economic data. In some cases, local sources supplied additional data that was used to assess a company's inner-city status. ICIC staff and partners also visited most of the top 115 Inner City 100 candidates.
In addition, applicants completed a detailed 12-page survey. They also submitted relevant parts of signed tax forms or financial statements (audits or reviews) prepared by an outside auditor or accountant for 1994, 1997, and 1998. That information formed the basis of a financial due-diligence process conducted by ICIC with the advice and assistance of PricewaterhouseCoopers, ICIC's pro bono adviser to the project. Of course, responsibility for the accuracy of the assessment belongs solely to ICIC. -Stephen Adams, manager, Inner City 100
Special thanks to the PricewaterhouseCoopers team of Jay Mattie, Mieka Driscoll, Matthew Caraco, Shawna Currier, and Susan Christie; and the Inner City 100 team of Rob Devaney, Molly Haskell, Shanika Walker, Deirdre Coyle, and Zoe Cohen.