The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, which compiles this annual list, defines inner cities as core urban areas--excluding central business districts--with higher unemployment and poverty rates and lower median incomes than their surrounding metropolitan statistical areas. The organization assesses these neighborhoods' economic status using in-house research and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council geocoding system, which draws on census forms.
Candidates for the 2006 IC 100 must:
Be independent, for-profit corporations, partnerships, or proprietorships
Be headquartered in or have more than half of their physical operations in inner cities
Have had 10 or more employees in 2004
Have a five-year operating history that includes an increase in sales in 2004 over 2003, sales of at least $200,000 in 2000, and at least $1 million in sales in 2004.
For the 2006 list, the ICIC solicited more than 4,500 nominations with the aid of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Merrill Lynch, the Small Business Administration, the New America Alliance, the Center for Women's Business Research, and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Nominated companies sent in brief applications. Approximately 500 candidates were then invited to complete a six-page survey and submit portions of signed tax forms or financial statements prepared by an outside auditor or accountant for 2000, 2003, and 2004 (the last year for which complete data were available). The ICIC performed due diligence on that data with the assistance of PricewaterhouseCoopers, its pro bono adviser on the project. The companies were then ranked by revenue growth. The ICIC assumes full accountability for the accuracy of its assessments.
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan