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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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UrbanX Renewables Group

Courtesy of UrbanX Renewables Group

Growing up in what he calls “diesel death zone” along West Coast truck shipping routes, Bruce Melgar developed a lifelong passion for fighting waste and environmental degradation. As CEO of UrbanX, Melgar is able to leverage his Long Beach, CA location to reach 2,000 kitchens and restaurants in a 100-mile radius and recycle their used cooking oil into fuel. UrbanX has been embraced by Southern California powerhouses like Fox and Warner Brothers, who use the biofuels to operate on-set equipment, as well as by companies like Red Bull, who are seeking a more environmentally friendly way to transport goods. In building his team Melgar sought, above all, employees who grew up experiencing the same environmental troubles that he did. As a result, none of Melgar’s staff came to UrbanX with direct experience. Instead, UrbanX provides extensive training to new hires on their highly specialized internal systems and takes pride in employee empowerment and low turnover.

Company Information

Five-Year Growth Rate (%) 515%
2015 Revenues ($M) $3.08
HQ Location Long Beach, CA
Business Leader(s) Bruce Melgar
Title President and CEO

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