FYI: From the editor

This month we present the third annual ranking of the 100 fastest-growing private companies in America's inner cities -- a list that is clearly taking on a life of its own. The facts and figures below show how the Inner City 100 has evolved over the past three years and how the companies on this year's list compare with those in the most recent Inc. 500 ranking.

  • Number of nominations for the Inner City 100:
    In 1999: 214
    In 2000: 900
    In 2001: 2,300
  • Don't look for on this year's list. The company's back-to-back appearances in 1999 (in the #2 spot) and 2000 (again at #2) caught the attention of Primus Telecommunications, which acquired for $43 million in March last year.
  • Median salary of responding CEOs:
    Among the 2001 Inner City 100 companies: $130,000
    Among the 2000 Inc. 500 companies: $200,000
  • Albert Black, CEO of On-Target Supplies & Logistics (#63 in 2000), encourages his employees to go out and start businesses. His company pays for employees -- he currently has 115 altogether -- to pursue their next highest educational degree in an area with a business focus. To date, 10 former employees have spun off companies of their own.
  • Percentage of Inner City 100 CEOs who report that they first thought about owning a company before age 15: 13%
  • The top two advantages of their companies' location, according to Inner City 100 CEOs:
    In 1999: Proximity to customers; low real estate costs
    In 2001: Workforce; proximity to customers, suppliers, and transportation
  • This year's class of Inner City 100 companies has created more than 8,300 new jobs in the past five years. At Ideal Steel (#55 on this year's list), in Detroit, CEO Frank Venegas Jr. helped a neighborhood that had become a war zone make peace by offering jobs to gang members.
  • Percentage of responding CEOs who are considering selling their companies within the next two years:
    Among the 2001 Inner City 100 companies: 8%
    Among the 2000 Inc. 500 companies: 43%
  • Only 13% of the Inner City 100 companies compete primarily on price. Nearly half (47%) cite customer service as their key competitive advantage, with distinctive products and services coming in second (32%).
  • Percentage of companies on this year's Inner City 100:
    That report international sales: 29%
    That report sales from their Web site: 21%
  • The same percentage of Inner City 100 CEOs have an M.B.A. as have only a high school education: 19%. Among last year's Inc. 500 CEOs who responded to our survey, 18% had an M.B.A., but only 8% had never attended college.
  • Percentage of responding founders who started with capital of less than $10,000:
    Among 2001 Inner City 100 companies: 39%
    Among 2000 Inc. 500 companies: 42%
  • With 88% of this year's Inner City 100 CEOs ranking their current location as good or excellent and 67% saying their location has gotten better in the past five years, it's no surprise that 86% of the CEOs say they have no intention of relocating outside the inner city.

Please e-mail your comments to