Chairman’s Foreword

The past 21 months presented new and unprecedented challenges to small businesses as communities were hit hard by COVID-19, shutdowns and ensuing economic turmoil. Add the continued disruption caused by the pandemic to the everyday challenges faced by lower income and under-resourced communities, and 2021 proved to be a second consecutive year of setbacks and devastation.

But Americans are resilient, and success stories abound. You’ll learn about many within the pages of this year’s Impact Report, which we fittingly have titled “Emerge Stronger.”

ICIC’s mission, vision and values have always been centered around driving inclusive economic prosperity and closing wealth gaps by supporting small businesses in under-resourced and under-represented communities. Community is at the heart of ICIC, and this year’s Stories of Impact speak loudly and proudly to these values.

At ICIC, we strive to help build stronger, more economically vibrant communities centered around and led by strong, healthy businesses. During the past year of extreme challenge brought on by both the pandemic and systemic racial inequity, we had an increased role to play in helping to expand economic opportunities and create level playing fields for entrepreneurs – particularly those small business owners who have been disproportionately impacted due to location and systemic inequities.

What the last year pointed out is that the work ICIC has been doing since its inception is more important than ever. The turmoil hit underserved communities especially hard and exposed all the weaknesses within our society and our economic systems. But what we learned is that through investment and innovative partnerships, both from the public and private sector, we can not only support small businesses, but create new models for success.

Our mission is to create meaningful connections for small businesses that are disconnected from the economy. These networking and advising opportunities are often lifesaving for entrepreneurs, and were especially so for many over the past year.

The powerful and inspiring stories within this report shine a light on just how impactful ICIC’s programs can be. For many businesses in 2021, they were a crucial lifeline that not only kept them afloat, but helped forge a path toward new opportunity, success, and growth. And through this collaboration and innovation, many emerged stronger.

Ronald A. Homer, Chairman, ICIC Board of Directors

Ronald A. Homer, Chairman