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100 Fastest-Growing Inner City Businesses

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The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), founded by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter in 1994, defines inner cities as core urban areas with higher unemployment and poverty rates and lower median incomes than their surrounding metropolitan statistical areas. Every year, ICIC identifies, ranks, andspotlights the 100 fastest-growing businesses located in America’s inner cities. In 2015, companies were ranked by revenue growth over the five-year period between 2010 and 2014.

ICIC relies on a national network of nominating partners, including city offices, economic development organizations, and small business development corporations, to find many of the businesses that appear on this list. Key partners in 2015 were Staples, Chevron, City of Oakland, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation,JumpStart, and World Business Chicago. This list was audited by the independent accounting firm Rucci, Bardaro, and Falzone, PC.

From a Philadelphia glass blowing outfit, to an Oakland-based 3D printing shop, and a high-end Brooklyn chocolatier, America's urban core is filled with a wildly diverse array of fast-growing businesses. Here are this year's 100 fastest-growing inner city companies, as ranked by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.

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19.

UrbanX Renewables Group, Inc.

Courtesy of UrbanX Renewables Group, Inc.

Bruce Melgar grew up in what he calls the “diesel death zone” along West Coast truck shipping routes, which inspired his passion for fighting environmental waste. The CEO of UrbanX leverages his Long Beach location to reach 2,000 kitchens and restaurants in a 100-mile radius, and recycles their used cooking oil into biofuel used by clients including Fox and Warner Brothers to operate on-set equipment, as well as by Red Bull to transport goods. Melgar recruits employees who grew up experiencing the same environmental troubles he did, so none of his staff come to UrbanX with direct industry experience. Instead, the company trains new hires on highly specialized systems and takes pride in its low turnover.

Company Information

Five-Year Growth Rate (%) 493%
2014 Revenue $2.39 million
HQ Location Long Beach, CA
Company Owner Bruce Melgar
Owner Title President

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