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Hotcards Ranks Among the Country’s Fastest-Growing Inner City Businesses

And yup, we're still a printing company.

At a time when printers are supposed to be packing up their things quietly and going home, we got some pretty amazing news. Last week, ICIC (Initiative for a Competitive Inner City) and Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked Hotcards as 38th on a list of the 100 Fastest-Growing Inner City Businesses in America. They threw a big party for us in Boston, we got to mix it up with other winners from all over the country, and listen to some pretty amazing speakers.

“Business must find a way to engage positively in society, but this will not happen as long as it sees its social agenda as separate from its core business agenda.”
– Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business School

Some cool facts on the Inner City 100:

“Collectively, the top 100 inner city businesses employ 10,700 employees and have created more than 6,300 new jobs between 2004 and 2008. Individually, the median Inner City 100 Company's revenues were $6.6 million. This year's winners have a median employee turnover rate of less than 8 percent and 96 percent of them provide health insurance to their workers.”

Those are some nice figures, particularly if you're in the printing industry, and particularly, particularly, if you're from Cleveland. These days, all we hear are the stories about how the recession is crushing our industry and our city. But the truth is much more complex, and positive, than that.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the other winners fell into the IT, green business, or green technology categories. However, there were a few other printers on the list, proving, if nothing else, that…hmm…printers and inner cities go hand in hand? Simply by default, a lot of printing houses are located in “inner city areas.” For a young person starting a print and design business, the space is there, and the price is right.

But in the end, success or failure comes down to a question of community. A printer can't survive, and a city can't survive, unless other small businesses, organizations, and social services survive along with it. Community creates commerce, and vice-versa. So while it's great to get our names on a list, we're not exactly surprised that our industry, or our city, is capable of great things. In fact, we like to think of ourselves as a sign of the times, and a sign of things to come.

As ICIC President and CEO, Mary Kay Leonard, put it, “We are delighted to celebrate businesses like Hotcards that are playing a critical role in revitalizing America's urban communities. Through their achievements, the Inner City 100 winning companies exemplify America's remarkable potential and the road to future economic recovery. These extraordinary companies demonstrate the market possibilities that exist within our inner cities. If we can leverage these possibilities, we can create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents and produce the next chapter of American innovation and opportunity.”

So here's to Cleveland! And to the next chapter, available, let's hope, online and in print.


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