Press Release

April 6, 2000

Tony Iallonardo
(202) 293-7330

Cities Drive America's Economic Growth
Boston Mayor Menino Hails Inner City Business Successes

Boston, MA -- Boston Mayor and U.S. Conference of Mayors Trustee Thomas M. Menino kicked off a press conference yesterday announcing the winners of the Inner City 100, an award that recognizes fast growing private companies thriving in America's inner cities. The list is a one-of-a-kind project undertaken by Inc. magazine, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and the Conference to spotlight entrepreneurs who have tapped into the untapped markets of the nation's core urban areas.

Boston Mayor Menino, Magic Johnson, and Inc. magazine editor-in-chief George Gendron chat before the April 5 press conference.
"The award not only recognizes the new leaders of urban entrepreneurship, it recasts the image of the inner city," said Menino, who was joined by several other mayors, "I know the Conference of Mayors is very pleased to have joined this effort."

The press conference was followed by a gala ceremony at the Boston Mariott Copley. The gala awards ceremony shines a national spotlight on the Inner City 100 and urban business successes in America's inner cities. Presenting the awards were Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who was also the first recipient of the National Inner-City Leadership Award, Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter and George Gendron, Editor-in-Chief of Inc. magazine.

The Inner City 100 companies are an especially impressive group. These are no small-time mom-and-pop shops: their average compound annual growth rate from 1994 to 1998 is 50 percent, average five-year sales growth rate is 750 percent, and average annual revenues are $12.2 million. The inner-city workforce is benefiting, too. Forty-one percent of Inner City 100 employees reside in the inner city and their average hourly wage, excluding benefits, is $12.83 compared to the national private sector average of $12.77. This figure is 150 percent greater than the minimum wage. The Inner City 100 are responsible for creating close to 4,500 jobs and more than doubling their employment over the past five years.

St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon kicked off a reception for the Inner City 100 winners sponsored by the Conference.
Finishing at the top of the rankings this year is Caribbean Shipping and Storage, a Jacksonville (FL) firm that provides inland and ocean transportation and storage. The firm had revenues in 1998 in excess of $20 million, and has had an incredible compound annual growth rate of 267 percent over five years. Best of all, most of the employees reside in the inner city, enjoy health care benefits, and earn wages in excess of the national average.

The Inner City 100 is the latest of several projects undertaken by the Conference in recent months to remind Americans that cities remain the best place to do business today.

Last November, the Conference released a landmark economic study showing that metropolitan economies have been the principal engine driving the nation's prosperity. The report, compiled by Standard & Poor's DRI showed that many metropolitan economies produce more goods and services than entire states or nations.

Specifically, the report found:

  • U. S. metro areas account for 84% of the nation's gross domestic product,
  • Metro areas are now generating 84% of the nation's employment and 88% percent of the nation's income,
  • Metro economies are responsible for 89%, or more than $2 trillion, of the nation's economic growth from 1992 to 1998, and
  • If city/county metro economies were ranked with nations, 47 of the world's largest 100 economies would be U.S. metro areas.
In this election year, Conference of Mayors President and Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb is bringing the agenda of cities directly to candidates for president. Webb has written a ten-point action plan called "A New Agenda for America's Cities". Among the proposals, Webb is calling upon the next president to step up federal efforts to promote the growth of untapped urban markets. Webb has invited the candidates to respond to his proposal by asking they participate in the June 2000 Conference of Mayors in Seattle.

Under Webb's leadership, the Conference embraced the opportunity to encourage businesses to participate in the Inner City 100. In calling for nominations for the award last year at the USCM Fall Leadership Meeting, Webb said, "Inner cities are filled with success stories. We are going to uncover and salute successful companies who are leveraging the competitive assets that inner cities have to offer."

This year, the Inner City 100 received over 900 nominations. This increase was partly due to ICIC's partnership with the Conference of Mayors, which urged mayors to nominate companies for the 2000 Inner City 100. Fifty-two mayors and their economic development agencies responded with 250 nominations.

"Mayors know that the inner city has the essential ingredients for business success -- location, location, location. The entrepreneurs of the Inner City 100 are savvy men and women who have tapped into resources overlooked by their suburban counterparts, namely plentiful labor, abundant infrastructure, lower costs and proximity to all the treasures that cities have to offer," said Menino, a Conference of Mayors Trustee. "I would say to the rest of corporate America -- can you afford not to give the inner city a second look?"

To be eligible for the Inner City 100, a company has to be an independent, privately-held for-profit corporation, partnership, or proprietorship (not a subsidiary or division) that has:

  • 51% or more of its physical operations in inner-city areas
  • Generated sales of at least $1 million in 1998
  • A five-year operating sales history that includes an increase in 1998 sales over 1997 sales
  • 10 or more employees
Nominees are ranked based on the percentage of increase in the companies' gross revenues between 1994 and 1998 and must meet the following criteria:
  • For-profit corporation, partnership or proprietorship (division or subsidiary)
  • Headquartered in the inner city (economically distressed urban area) or have 51% or more of physical operations in inner-city areas
  • Employ 10 or more employees at year-end 1998
  • Have a five year operating sales history that includes: - sales revenue from 1994 through 1998 - an increase in 1998 sales over 1997 sales - sales of at least $1 million in 1998
  • Cannot be a holding company, regulated bank or utility
The Inner City 100 will be published in the May 2000 issue of Inc. magazine. Other media outlets are encouraged to publish stories on the awards that will pre-date the release of the May issue of Inc. magazine. Press can obtain more information by contacting the Conference public affairs office at 202-293-7330.

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City ( is a national, not-for-profit organization founded in June 1994 by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter, following several years of pioneering research on inner-city business and economic development. ICIC's mission is to spark new thinking about the business potential of inner cities, thereby creating jobs and wealth for inner-city residents.

Inc. is the leading magazine written for the men and women who own and manage small-to-midsized, fast-growing companies. Published 18 times a year, Inc. helps its 2.2 million readers by providing expert advice and practical solutions as they face the opportunities, pitfalls, and rewards of growing a company. Inc. Online (, the Web site for growing companies, was named Best Online Magazine by Folio and Best Overall New Publication (all media) by the Computer Press Association.

The United States Conference of Mayors ( is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.