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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, and spotlights the 100 fastest-growing businesses located in America’s inner cities. In 2016, Companies were ranked by revenue growth over the five-year period between 2011 and 2015.

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 2016 were Staples, Chevron, JumpStart, Kaiser Permanente, New York City Department of Small Business Services, and World Business Chicago. This list was audited by the independent accounting firm Rucci, Bardaro, and Falzone, PC.


From a high-tech commercial fishing outlet in Boston to a socially responsible apparel company in Oakland, there’s great variety in the types of businesses thriving in America’s urban centers and creating jobs where they are needed most. Here are this year's 100 fastest-growing inner city companies, as ranked by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC).

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  3. 2015 Revenues ($M)
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Creative Business Solutions

Courtesy of Creative Business Solutions

Integrity, service before self, and quick logical thinking under pressure are Creative Business Solutions (CBS)’s hallmark. These are the assets that CBS’s CEO Robert Palmer gleaned from approximately 25 years as a military officer in the United States Air Force. Now as the leader of a management and information technology (IT) consulting firm based in Southeast Washington, DC, the retired Colonel seeks to engage other veterans interested in applying their entrepreneurial skills. He prioritizes military hires at CBS because they combine both “mission understanding” and professional work ethic to accomplish mission critical requirements. Palmer and his team’s military/federal background gives them unique insight into the needs of their top customer, the federal government. As the company continues to grow, Palmer looks forward to further building his company’s capacity in the IT sector so that they can help not only government organizations but also private companies bolster their cybersecurity measures.

Company Information

Five-Year Growth Rate (%) 562%
2015 Revenues ($M) $13.17
HQ Location Washington, D.C.
Business Leader(s) Robert C. Palmer
Title CEO, Colonel U.S.A.F. (Ret.)

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