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ICIC’s State of the Inner City Economies Database

Since its inception in 1994 ICIC has engaged in an intense research effort focused on documenting and understanding the economic and business opportunities of America’s inner cities and the regions in which they are located. By 2002, ICIC had come to the realization that the quality of economic data about inner-cities was inadequate; in fact, data were nearly non-existent. ICIC could find libraries full of information on the deficiencies and challenges facing America’s inner cities, but no one had systematically compiled information on the assets and opportunities. This meant that business leaders and policy makers had no comprehensive and accurate base of information about urban core communities on which to rely. Thus, they often made business decisions based on anecdotal evidence or social issues.

This presented a challenge and an opportunity for ICIC.

Because ICIC is in the business of identifying inner-city market opportunities and accelerating inner-city business growth, this data was essential. Therefore, ICIC set out to develop the State of Inner City Economies (SICE) database. SICE is based on proprietary analysis that allows ICIC to delineate inner city boundaries in the 100 largest central cities in America. Analysis is based on data from public sources such as the U.S. Census and Bureau of Economic Analysis; private sources of business and demographic data; and Michael E. Porters’ cluster definitions.

In 2006, ICIC emerged with the only database 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. In-depth profiles of inner city economies in the 100 largest central cities provide a comprehensive picture of inner city demographics, jobs and wages, business trends, commercial real estate, and venture capital flows.

With this database, ICIC now possesses the only comprehensive data with which to assess the economic performance of U.S. inner cities, understand their economic composition, uncover drivers of performance, increase private investment, and sharpen public policy.

For the first time, ICIC is able to identify emerging industry clusters and take action to foster their growth. ICIC has already discovered that one common characteristic of successful inner cities is clusters of businesses that support one another to ensure a vibrant local economy. Overall, the data show that inner city job growth is being driven by several key clusters of businesses including business services; construction and development; healthcare; local real estate; local hospitality establishments; and education and knowledge creation. We also know that gateway cities -- cities with large inner city immigrant populations -- tend to grow much faster than other cities.

The data will allow ICIC to benchmark cities and hone specific city strategies. One of the most important insights has to do with cities themselves. Each one has its own geographic shape, population density, and business assets and challenges. Certain cities are adding or losing businesses, jobs and population faster than others and success and failure has been achieved in widely varying conditions. Determining the conditions for success and failure, and identifying strategies to address these disparities will form the cornerstones of ICIC’s future research.

ABOUT SICE


ICIC’s State of the Inner City Economies (SICE) assesses the economic health, performance, and assets of inner cities in the 100 largest U.S. central cities and their inner cities. The State of the Inner City Economies is based on proprietary census tract analysis conducted by ICIC to accurately delineate inner city boundaries in the largest 100 central cities in America. SICE data is obtained from public sources such as the U.S.Census and government business, employment and wage data, and private sources of market-relevant data on real estate, start-ups, and financial characteristics of inner city companies.

The purpose of State of the Inner City Economies is to uncover drivers of performance, increase private investment, and sharpen public policy.

SICE is the first project 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. In-depth profiles of inner city economies in the 100 largest central cities provides comprehensive information on inner city demographic data, jobs and wage data, business trends, commercial real estate data, venture capital data, and geographical maps and boundaries.


SICE findings indicate that inner cities in the 100 central cities are a substantial part of the U.S. economy:


• 8% of the U.S. population (22 million people), equal to the population of Texas;
• 8% of U.S. private employment (9 million);
• 850,000 establishments
• $120 Billion in annual retail spending