100 fastest growing inner city businesses

4. TerraCycle
2009 Revenues: $7.6 million
5-year Annual Growth Rate: 102%

Tom Szaky
Location: Trenton, NJ
Year Founded: 2003

About the business:
TerraCycle sells what other people pay to have taken away: garbage. During his freshman year at Princeton, Tom Szaky watched his friends use organic waste to grow, umm...herbs. Inspired by the thought of using waste as a valuable commodity -- a market that is virtually untouched -- Szaky soon founded TerraCycle in Trenton, New Jersey.

TerraCycle has collected billions of pieces of waste in 11 different countries and has either recycled or "up-cycled" them into over 1,500 various products available at major retailers ranging from Wal-mart to Whole Foods Market. As for the future of this eco-friendly company, Szaky expresses concern that others will enter the market, but for now it's safe to say the market is all his.

--By Ashley Bush and Daron Sharps

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) defines inner cities as core urban areas with higher unemployment and poverty rates and lower median incomes than their surrounding metropolitan statistical areas. For the 2011 list, ICIC received more than 2,000 solicited nominations using its database of small businesses and through the support of its nominating partners, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Staples, and the Small Business Administration. Companies were ranked by compound annual growth rate (CAGR) based on their revenue over the five-year period between 2005 and 2009 (the last year for which complete data was available).
Last updated May 18 2011: 5:14 PM ET
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