The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City defines inner cities as core urban areas with higher unemployment and poverty rates and lower median incomes than surrounding metropolitan statistical areas. Candidates for the 2007 Inner City 100 must:
- Be independent, for-profit corporations, partnerships, or proprietorships
- Be headquartered or have more than half of their physical operations in inner cities
- Have had 10 or more full-time employees in 2005
- Have a five-year operating history that includes an increase in sales in 2005 over 2004, sales of at least $200,000 in 2001, and at least $1 million in sales in 2005.
For the 2007 list, the ICIC solicited approximately 4,000 nominations with the aid of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER), Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS), and the Small Business Administration. Nominated companies sent in brief applications. More than 300 were invited to complete a survey and submit financial documents for 2001, 2004, and 2005 (the last year for which complete data was available). That formed the basis of financial due diligence conducted by the ICIC with the assistance of pro bono adviser PricewaterhouseCoopers. The companies were ranked by revenue growth. The ICIC assumes full responsibility for the accuracy of its assessments.