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‘Inner City 100’ honors list of fastest-growing urban companies

Ten Massachusetts firms were named to the list

Sandra Larson | 6/5/2013, 2:01 p.m.

Ten Massachusetts firms, headquartered in Boston, Lawrence, Lowell and Worcester, were named to the 2013 “Inner City 100” list unveiled recently by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC). The list recognizes the fastest-growing companies located in urban cores across the United States. This year’s awardees were honored at the Inner City 100 Symposium and Awards in Boston last month.

ICIC, a Boston nonprofit research and strategy organization, believes that doing business in the inner city gives a distinct competitive advantage, reaping benefits for the company such as proximity to clients and access to a local workforce, while adding vitality and jobs to economically distressed urban areas.

One of this year’s winners was Pinck & Co., a Boston construction management consulting firm that, since its start in 1998, has managed over $2 billion in construction projects, including The Brewery Small Business Complex in Jamaica Plain, City Year headquarters in the South End and Boston Collegiate Charter School in Dorchester.

“From a vibrancy standpoint, the city needs the [business] activity. In order to attract people to the city, you have to have opportunities for them in the city.” — Howard Nunes

Founder Jennifer Pinck said the firm’s location on Magazine Street in Roxbury is key for her business.

“When we moved here, 50 to 60 percent of our clients were within a mile of us,” she said. “And it’s very close to the Inspectional Services Department, where you go for permits, so that’s an advantage to our clients.” And unlike some downtown locations, Pinck & Co.’s still-gritty neighborhood provides easy parking and relatively low rent.

Pinck, who started out in the building trades herself in the 1970s, said she contributes to the local economy by helping contractors hire local subcontractors and by purchasing locally.

“I’m a Boston business. I live in Boston, and half my staff lives in Boston,” she said. “So if I’m looking for services, I try to support Boston businesses — and they’ve supported me.”

Companies benefit from an urban location — and provide benefit to local residents — in different ways.

Howard Nunes, CEO of PepperDash Technology, said his company’s Allston location provides an easy commute for his staff of graphic designers, programmers, project coordinators and salespeople, whether they drive from the suburbs or walk from homes in Allston or Brighton. Though many of the clients for PepperDash’s complex electronic systems are large firms along Routes 128 or 495, being in Boston is good for PepperDash and for the city, Nunes said.

“From a vibrancy standpoint, the city needs the [business] activity,” he said. “In order to attract people to the city, you have to have opportunities for them in the city.”

The ICIC survey found that 65 percent of the companies consider their inner city location an advantage in recruiting, and 42 percent indicated they make an outreach effort to “disadvantaged” potential employees. And these companies do create jobs. This year’s winners employ a total of 10,391 people and generated 5,863 jobs in 2007–2011, the five-year period ICIC examined for this year’s list. Thirty-seven percent of employees are minorities and 48 percent are “inner city residents,” according to the survey.