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Research and Analysis

Understanding the urban economic ecosystem

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ICIC was established in part to apply analytic rigor to inner city economies that have historically been ignored by national corporations and misunderstood by policy makers. Today, ICIC's research agenda has positioned the organization as the go-to resource about urban economies. Through research, best practices and practical know-how, ICIC supports public and private sector decision makers with the business intelligence that leads to urban investment, jobs and growth.

ICIC undertakes research and analysis projects in partnership with businesses, governments, foundations and peer institutions. ICIC's 2011 research agenda includes:

  • Regional equity. Ten years of ICIC data show that regional economic gains rarely ripple in to the inner city. Current research is directed to developing a policy framework that addresses social and spatial equity in terms of economic development, opportunity and well-being of inner cities in a regional context.
  • Strengthening local business clusters. Local clusters are groups of inter-related industries that serve almost exclusively local demand, as opposed to exporting goods or services beyond the region. Local clusters account for 72% of U.S. employment. ICIC is identifying the public and private sector strategies with the most immediate effect on these clusters.
  • Improving access to capital. Inner city businesses are undercapitalized by 20 to 50% during their growth phase as compared to average businesses. This financing gap significantly limits the ability of inner city businesses to scale up and create jobs in their communities. ICIC is uncovering the factors limiting capital access for inner city businesses and is developing the necessary federal policy recommendations to improve access to capital for urban firms.
  • Building the next Detroit. The Detroit Works Project is an evolving roadmap designed to make Detroit work by creating a shared, achievable vision for the city's future. ICIC is part of a team of local, national and internationally respected firms working on the project.
  • Community benefit to shared value. Inner cities are home to more than their share of America’s largest anchor institutions – universities, medical centers and cultural facilities -- which spend billions on goods and services. Working with the Cleveland Clinic, ICIC is validating best practices anchor institutions can use to reinvigorate their neighboring communities as well as improve their bottom lines. 

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 brings a level of analytic rigor and insight to understanding inner city economies that is distinctive. ICIC's long-standing mission of increasing jobs, income and wealth in inner cities has been a constant call to action reaching from inner city entrepreneurs and residents to the highest levels of corporate leadership and government.

Barbara Berke,

Secretary of Economic Development

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

  • The more we learn about inner city companies, the more we learn about everything else we need to know. Because they are the ones trying to build businesses and create a profit. In that sense, they are the center of the universe.

Professor Michael E. Porter,

Founder and Chairman


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