The Inner City 100
1. Mosaica Education
New York City
Mosaica operates charter schools in eight states and the District of Columbia. Click here to read the full profile.
2. Intercosmos Media Group
A group of Louisiana entrepreneurs launched Intercosmos in 1999 to offer free Web hosting. Revenue at first came from advertising; in 2000 Intercosmos was able to start charging for domain names. The company works with the city to employ four public-school interns a year, training them in customer support. Many of those students are later hired full-time.
3. Tech Valley Communications
The late-'90s telecom bust actually helped Kevin O'Connor get his phone company off the ground. Trolling on eBay, he found $50,000 routers for $5,000. Tech Valley now uses that equipment to provide phone and high-speed Internet services to a customer base that is mostly commercial.
Employees at 180s (No. 1 on last year's Inner City 100) not only make ear warmers, gloves, and sunglasses, they mentor freshmen and sophomores at an inner city high school. While the high school's dropout rate hovers at 60%, 99% of the students in the program have gone on to graduate.
5. The Piston Group
Vinnie Johnson started this auto-parts company after a National Basketball Association career. Click here to read the full profile.
6. Global Technology Resources
Workers from Lance K. Vierra's computer hardware reseller recently climbed three 14,000-foot peaks to install a wireless communication system meant to help firefighters communicate by radio over a larger geographic area during a wildfire.
Peopleclick's Web-enabled human resources software helps companies manage the hiring process by, for instance, prescreening applicants and automatically e-mailing rejection notices to unqualified ones. Still, sometimes the best recruiting tools are old-fashioned; one of Peopleclick's big draws, according to CEO Stephen Sasser, is its downtown location.
Mario Reyna knows how to stop traffic. Reyna, an electronics technician turned CEO, estimates that his company has installed 8% of all the traffic signals in greater Houston. Traf-Tex also builds and services surveillance cameras for highways and electronic road signs.
In the past three years, Coakley-Tech, which helps businesses store files of documents physically and digitally, has gone from three clients to 35, including the health care division of GE and Milwaukee's own Harley-Davidson. New president Chris Illman says cities should focus more on local procurement. "In turn, companies like Coakley-Tech will hire from within the city and everybody wins," he says.
10. Resources for Senior Living
With nine residences in Texas and the Carolinas, Resources for Senior Living caters to seniors who don't need nursing-home care but do need assistance, be it with bathing, eating, or taking medication.