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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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The Onyx Company

Courtesy of The Onyx Company

When John Hamilton came to the Onyx Company as a consultant in 2010, he never anticipated that it would become his next big challenge—and success. A natural entrepreneur, John had been looking for the chance to do sustainable, business-driven work and saw an opportunity to innovate the food disposable industry through this company. With this motivation, John turned a traditional janitorial goods company into a leading supplier of sustainable food service products. A strictly B2B company, the Onyx Company has been directly influential in expanding the sustainable packaging supply chain and created a consulting arm of the business to educate customers on the benefits of using these products. These two factors and their ability to manage customers’ economic needs with their sustainable goals have brought their products—formerly known as too expensive—into mainstream markets. The Onyx Company has a high staff retention rate, and they attribute access to talented local professionals and job training programs to their location in the Pilsen area of Chicago.

Company Information

Five-Year Growth Rate (%) 521%
2015 Revenues ($M) $4.39
HQ Location Chicago, IL
Business Leader(s) John Hamilton
Title President

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