Arthur Miller grew up in a rough neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. After serving in the U.S. Army and rising through the ranks at UPS and ADP, he founded his construction company, MZI Group, in an industrial part of Chicago in 1999. Today, 40 percent of Miller's 40 employees hail from distressed areas of the city, including several from his old neighborhood. During the busy summer months, that number jumps to nearly 70 percent. Last fall, MZI received certification with the Small Business Administration's HUBZone program for businesses that are based in and hire workers from struggling neighborhoods. The designation has helped MZI land federal contracts, including one with the National Park Service. But for Miller, the financial benefits are secondary. "I love hiring people from tough areas," he says. "Some of my old friends are still gangbanging at age 45. I could have easily gone the other way."
J.J. MCCORVEY is a reporter at Inc. magazine, where he covers a wide range of topics, including technology and business research. He has covered metro news for The Detroit News, and his work has been featured in Men's Fitness. @jmccorvey