The Inner City 100, year four. The fastest-growing businesses based in some of America's poorest neighborhoods continue to fascinate us. Members of this year's list, compiled in collaboration with Boston-based Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, grossed $1.9 billion in 2000 and employed 15,571 people. Hailing from cities ranging from Denver to San Francisco to Wichita, they fix generators, maintain networks, and sell carpets, khakis, cookies, beef, and yachts.
In spite of the presumed drawbacks of urban business -- taxes, competition, and crime, to name a few -- these companies cite their milieu as a real competitive advantage, replete with abundant workers, affordable real estate, and proximate customers. And metropolitan commerce also has an appealing, dynamic tempo -- one set by these 100 shrewd and charismatic entrepreneurs.