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About ICIC

The voice of urban opportunity

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Who We Are

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) is a nonprofit research and strategy organization and the leading authority on U.S. inner city economies and the businesses that thrive there. Founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, ICIC strengthens inner city economies by providing businesses, governments and investors with the most comprehensive and actionable information in the field about urban market opportunities.

  • We identify economic drivers for urban environments, and inform public and private sector leaders how to best utilize them.
  • We support high potential urban businesses by providing them with access to year-round executive education, networking and national visibility.
  • We teach inner city businesses how to compete for capital and gain access to capital providers.
  • We guide financial institutions to new investment opportunities and some of the world’s fastest-growing companies.
  • We advise corporations and anchor institutions on how they can use their business drivers to create value for themselves and the community. 

ICIC’s unique knowledge of inner city success factors and growing companies is developed from specialized urban networks and path-breaking research.

Download ICIC's Fact Sheet. 
 

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One-of-a-kind research and resource for job creation. ICIC’s ongoing State of the Inner City Economies (SICE) research maps the economic performance, business vitality and resident prosperity of America’s 100 largest central cities, their inner cities and their metropolitan areas. The only data set of its kind, SICE is an indispensable resource to assess local competitive advantages and set strategies for investment and equitable growth. ICIC’s sophisticated analytics discover which industry clusters will have the most energizing effect on overall urban prosperity. ICIC also helps cities identify their competitive advantages and build out strategies to take advantage of them to create jobs and revitalize distressed areas. ICIC’s unique knowledge of inner city success factors and growing companies is developed from specialized urban networks and path-breaking research, carefully chosen advisory engagement, and implementation of evidence based business support programs.

Just in the last two years, ICIC teams have shaped economic strategies in Detroit, Saint Paul, New Orleans and Chicago and provided community development strategies for institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic and Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles. Nationally, ICIC research awakened major retailers to an $89 billion market opportunity in America’s inner cities. ICIC recently concluded that cities, on average, save 31 cents for every dollar invested in industrial land and associated jobs.

An Agent Transforming challenges into opportunities. Successful urban economic development demands extraordinary collaboration and pinpoint focus: Absent specific commitments to leveraging the assets of distressed urban communities, regional solutions often bypass inner cities: 10% regional growth translates to just 1% in the inner city.

Through the Inner City Capital Connections program, ICIC has helped Bank of America and its private equity partners find investment-ready companies in 133 different inner cities. Seventy-six percent of these businesses have been minority-owned and one-third women-owned. These companies have gone on to raise more than $703 million in capital and create over 5,600 jobs of which 43% are held by inner city residents.

Every year, ICIC identifies and supports the 100 fastest-growing inner city companies. These firms represent the kind of innovative and diverse organizations that will replace declining legacy industries in our cities: Between 1999 and 2012, 720 Inner City 100 companies have created nearly 73,000 new jobs – of which 95% provide health benefits. More than 35% of these winning companies have been minority-owned and 20% have been women-owned.

ICIC partners with Goldman Sachs to identify and select business owners, who have limited resources but also have a business poised for growth, for participation in the 10,000 Small Businesses program. The program, expanding to more cities each year, helps entrepreneurs overcome major barriers to growth by offering access to a combination of education, capital and support services.


A bridge between public initiative and private enterprise. As the leading authority on inner city economies and the companies that thrive there, ICIC plays a unique role in urban investment and public policy decisions. In mayors’ offices, we are the public face of the urban private sector. Among investors, we speak the language of business advantage and shared value. ICIC’s Inner City Economic Summit brings corporate leaders together with public officials, civic groups and foundations to focus on practical challenges such as how to better link regional and inner city growth strategies together and better align the drivers of business growth capital, workforce and land-use policies. Through the What Works campaign, ICIC is expanding the tool kit for city officials and community leaders by providing the best practices and know-how that lead to inner city investment, jobs and growth.


ICIC recently set a new alliance with Next Street, the first merchant bank for urban enterprise, to bridge the gap between economic development strategies and practical application at the street level. Together, ICIC and Next Street will put research-based insights into practice, prototype real-world solutions, and replicate success at scale across the country to ensure that urban investments succeed over time.

Mission Statement

ICIC's mission is to drive economic prosperity in America's inner cities through private sector investment to create jobs, income and wealth for local residents.

ICIC in Action

  • ICIC research awakened major retailers to a billion dollar market opportunity in America
  • ICIC research in St. Paul found that the city saves 31 cents for every dollar invested in industrial land and associated jobs.
  • ICIC advised on the economic growth plan for Detroit Future City. The action-oriented roadmap for decision-making proposes five strategies to grow Detroit
  • Inner City 100 companies created over 76,000 new jobs
  • Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) companies have generated 5,694 jobs and raised $703 million in capital

What Are Inner Cities?

  • 1

    Urban cores with high poverty and unemployment rates and low median income levels

  • 2

    They have a poverty rate of 20% or higher

  • 3

    Or, have 2 of the following 3 criteria:

  • 4

    (1) Poverty rate 1.5x times or more than their MSA

  • 5

    (2) Median household income

  • 6

    (3) Unemployment rate 1.5x or more than their MSA

  • Inner city residents need jobs near their homes that offer good pay and the prospect of long-term employment. These can be created only by businesses.

Professor Michael E. Porter,

Founder and Chairman

ICIC

  • ICIC brings the magic of the market to inner city economic development. This approach is what we need to create jobs for our fellow Americans and strengthen the tax base of our cities.

     

Tom Castro,

Founder

El Dorado Capital

for our monthly Inner City Insights.

© 2014 Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. All rights reserved.

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