Research, Data and Analysis


Data on Inner Cities 

ICIC's action-oriented research bridges the gap between theory and practice and drives change. Over the past decade, ICIC has engaged in an intense research effort focused on understanding and documenting the economic and the business opportunities of America’s inner cities, cities and regions. This wealth of knowledge identifies existing and emerging business clusters as well as new business opportunities, assesses the competitive advantages and disadvantages of the inner city as a business location, and reveals best practices for operating profitably. All of which have been used for developing action plans: real-world, real-time ways to improve business.

The foundation of our data and research is a clear definition of what qualifies as an inner city area and an understanding of the importance of industry clusters to the workings of a healthy economy.

Inner City Economies

ICIC understands inner city economies with deep analytical detail. The State of Inner City Economies database (SICE) is a proprietary tool developed by ICIC to track the economic progression of business and residents in the inner city, and for a wide range of geographical areas. This unique data set is the only one of its kind to measure indicators of business vitality, resident prosperity, business confidence and business environment for inner cities in relation to their metropolitan areas.

Inner City Businesses

ICIC also regularly collects and analyzes company data to understand the challenges and opportunities in doing business in the inner city. The Inner City 100 program conducts an extensive annual survey of winning companies on a variety of topics ranging from workforce and capital issues to key customers and business strategy. ICIC is currently evaluating the last 11 years of data to uncover trends among this subset of fast-growing urban companies to determine both business and policy implications. In addition, each year, the Inner City Capital Connections program surveys past attendees to discover how those companies have accessed new growth capital since completing the program.

Research & Analysis on Key Topics in Economic Development

Understanding that many challenges and the opportunities affecting the inner city require deeper analysis and investigation, ICIC has engaged in several detailed studies on these critical issues. Overviews from our recent work on inner city retail and the construction, housing and real estate industry  cluster are below, with articles and reports accessible here. In addition, many reports and studies from past projects are archived in our Publications and Presentations library.

Developing Inner City Retail

To assess the current state of inner city retail, ICIC classified each of the 100 largest inner cities along three dimensions: current retail gap; change in retail supply; and change in the retail gap. Each of these measures is important for understand the overall health of retail in economically distressed urban areas ICIC classified the 100 inner cities based on whether the area had a retail gap or a retail surplus; whether retail activity in terms of sales was growing; and whether the retail gap grew or shrank. 

Digging Deep into Construction, Housing and Real Estate

The Construction, Housing, and Real Estate (CHRE) sector has the potential to serve as a cornerstone for inner city economic revitalization. While overall job growth in the inner cities decreased by -1% over the period from 1998-2005, employment in the CHRE cluster increased by a full 9%. Among the 25 largest Inner Cities during that same period, the cluster grew by an astounding 39%. Clearly, understanding the sector is of utmost importance for the nation’s economic stability and represents an enormous opportunity for revenue creation when the economy rebounds. Although growth has slowed considerably during the downturn over the last two years, the cluster remains one of the single largest economic drivers in urban economies.