Chairman’s Foreword: Taking Care of Business Together
When I joined the Board of Directors of ICIC at its inception in 1994, I was inspired by its mission to drive economic inclusion through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents in underserved and under-resourced communities. The need to drive our mission-related impact is just as great today as it was in 1994.
ICIC was formed in the aftermath of the 1992 civil disturbances in Los Angeles that occurred after a jury acquitted four officers of the Los Angeles Police Department charged with using excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King. The incident was videotaped and widely shown on television broadcasts. Ironically nearly three decades later a similar dynamic played out with the murder of George Floyd while being detained by four officers of the Minneapolis Police Department.
These and other similar events resulting in the loss of life and property create an economic and psychological toll on underserved and under-resourced communities. They also significantly dampen the prospect of attracting the private sector investment needed to create new and additional opportunities. Add to this dynamic the disparate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and severe weather events on these same communities the challenges we face in attaining our mission are mounting.
While I continue to be inspired by the aspirational aspect of our mission, what inspires me most is the resiliency and determination of the businesses we engage in our programs. The stories highlighted in this annual impact report as well as the many more untold successes, reinforce my optimism for the future. I believe that this is particularly true if we adopt the policies and practices leading to positive outcomes supported by research. While small business owners are the main drivers for success, they need the support of the broader community including an alignment with corporate, government, and philanthropic efforts. One goal of ICIC’s research is to help facilitate such alignment.
Reflecting on 2022, ICIC needed to adapt and innovate to help our business owners stay open for business, amid economic and geopolitical instability and uncertainty. To reopen or remain open for business, we equipped small business owners to demonstrate their ability to survive and even thrive despite these headwinds. And despite all of the barriers these businesses, and the economy at large, continue to face, the leaders who are in our programs continue to show their strength and creativity.
As we consider the coming year and beyond, rather than helping business owners to mitigate the impact of headwinds, we have the opportunity to help small business owners to innovate using headwinds. Climate change is one of the critical topics at the center of local, national, and global conversations. The fact that climate change has a disproportionate impact on under-resourced communities, communities in which businesses supported by ICIC are based, the economic impact these businesses could have is significant. Similarly, the current housing crisis and the availability of land in underserved and under-resourced communities positions the small business owners we support to use their business – construction, for example – to bring out positive change for these communities while earning a return, which resonates with me as a social impact investment executive.
I am excited about what is ahead for ICIC and the businesses we support. Despite its challenges, 2022 was one of ICIC’s most impactful years ever because we were able to combine the lessons learned from our past with the ability to pivot with the challenges of our present. As we look to the future let us build on the momentum of helping small businesses emerge stronger from the trials, stay open for business, and focus on taking care of business.
I appreciate our dedicated Board of Directors, supporters, and staff, and congratulate everyone on a year well done.
Ronald A. Homer, Chairman, ICIC Board of Directors