Letter from CEO
It’s been 21 months since we last met in person. Shook hands without hesitation. Greeted customers with smiles that weren’t covered by masks. Or spoke without being a safe distance apart.
During this time of uncertainty, we’ve lost more than our sense of normalcy. There’s been a tremendous loss of jobs, income, and businesses, as well as the ultimate sacrifice, a tragic loss of far too many lives.
Despite the struggles we’ve collectively faced, there have been some silver linings.
Operating outside our comfort zones has challenged us to innovate, adapt, build resilience, and pivot when necessary. To prevail and emerge stronger, we had to – and must continue to – think and operate differently.
This reminds me of a quote by the artist Norman Laliberté who passed away earlier this year at the age of 95.
He said, “We’re not here to do what has already been done.”
This was the guiding philosophy behind Norman’s life and work. It’s ICIC’s guiding philosophy as well.
As a laboratory for experimentation, innovation, and new ideas that serve to strengthen small businesses and the economic vitality of their underserved communities, Norman’s words of wisdom also very much align with ICIC’s mission: “to drive inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents.”
Our vision which gets us up every morning is “to eliminate concentrated poverty and close the racial wealth gap.”
And uphold our values of being “Inclusive. Pathbreaking. Continuously improving. Collaborative and community-building. Transparent and accountable.”
In 2021, ICIC did things we hadn’t done before.
We achieved record-high impact, serving 3,002 overwhelmingly BIPOC- and woman-owned small businesses, 20% more than in the previous year.
We expanded the reach of our programs to entrepreneurs in U.S. cities where we’ve never been before; and, with the introduction of Inner City Capital Connections to Canadian business owners, we expanded internationally.
We created a customized, self-paced digital learning platform to further engage and better equip our community of small business owners with resources, tools, and strategies for sustainable growth and resilience.
We published groundbreaking research that extends our pioneering work on anchor institutions to cover for-profit anchors; and, using the most detailed and comprehensive information available, we analyzed how the coronavirus recession and recovery have affected businesses and jobs in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.
Each of these achievements has enhanced our capacity for meaningful and lasting impact on the environment and ecosystems in which we operate and on the small business owners whose lives we touch.
Innovation, collaboration, communication, and transformative thinking are helping each of us navigate the unprecedented challenges we’ve faced during the last 21 months and emerge stronger.
We honor the heroes and sheroes whose energy and optimism inspire us every day.
Steve Grossman, CEO