Penn Hosts Program for Inner City Businesses

On July 31, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania hosted the Inner City Capital Connections program, designed to strengthen the capabilities of CEOs of growing inner city businesses in the mid-Atlantic region to raise capital. 

The program was presented by the Institute for a Competitive Inner City, sponsored by Bank of America and co-hosted by the Office of state Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, Wharton’s Small Business Development Center and Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs.

Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garret welcomed the participants. The day-long seminar at Wharton included sessions on business strategy, entrepreneurial finance, private equity and debt financing, as well as individual coaching on raising capital. Faculty from Wharton and the Harvard Business School led sessions. Inner City Capital Connections will also offer coaching, education, and, at a culminating conference in New York City in November, introductions to investors and bankers.

“The Inner City Capital Connections program is consistent with the objectives of Penn’s Economic Inclusion Program, which helps to build the capacity of local businesses,” said Glenn Bryan, assistant vice president of community relation in Penn’s OGCA.

Approximately 100 leaders of inner city businesses were selected to participate, including manufacturers, service providers, construction companies and retail and technology companies. Business were chosen based on track record and growth potential plus their need for capital. 

Therese Flaherty, director of the Wharton Small Business Development Center, said, “Our Wharton SBDC clients who participated were inspired to take their businesses to the next level and are excited to take advantage of the opportunities provided by Inner City Capital Connections.”

Since its inception in 2005, almost 700 inner city companies and 150 debt and equity providers have been selected to participate, raising more than $1 billion in capital. ICCC companies have also created or helped to create 4,977 jobs. On average, they hire 43 percent of their workforce from within the inner city.

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