Small Business Services
Press Releases

May 24, 2005


Two Queens and Two Bronx Businesses Listed Among Inner City 100; Commissioner Accepts Award for NYC’s Focus on Business Growth

New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Robert Walsh today hosted the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) at an event honoring four New York City small businesses named by Inc. Magazine as among the 100 fastest-growing inner city companies in the country -- American Christmas Decorations, Artuso Pastry, Cynergy Data, and Mosaica Education.

Mosaica Education, a company which runs humanities-based charter schools, including one in Astoria , topped the list as the nation’s fastest-growing. Cynergy Data, a credit card processing company for retailers also located in Queens , ranked #69 on the list. The other two companies honored, American Christmas Decorations and Artuso Pastry, are based in the Bronx .

The companies are being honored in part for their efforts in overcoming issues faced by small businesses. ICIC noted that twenty- nine percent of companies on the Inner City 100 said recruiting qualifying employees was one of the top factors limiting growth, and forty-nine percent reported some difficulty in raising capital. Commissioner Walsh, who also accepted Inc. Magazine’s “City Award” for driving New York ’s Department of Small Business Services, spoke to these challenges and the many solutions offered by the City’s NYC Business Solutions initiative.

“ New York City is the world’s capital for enterprise and ingenuity, and we are proud to celebrate this once again with the release of the 2005 Inner City 100 list,” said Commissioner Robert Walsh. “I congratulate the four New York City companies whose acumen and growth have landed them a coveted spot among such an esteemed group of businesses. I also want to thank the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City for its commitment to invigorating urban economies and the businesses that comprise them.”


“The fact that New York City can claim home to four of the top 100 inner-city businesses is testament to the priority the City places on supporting efforts that assist small businesses throughout the five boroughs. The Mayor’s NYC Business Solutions initiative is a perfect example,” he added.

The Leadership Award is presented to individuals who have had a sustained and substantial impact on New York 's inner city communities. Since being created in 2002, the Department of Small Business Services has helped create healthy business conditions and increased business opportunities among New York City 's diverse commercial districts.

The Top 100 list includes companies that have proven either profitable or planning to expand their workforces. The “2005 Inner City 100” showed an astounding average annual growth of 827 percent between 1999 and 2003, compared with an average of 716 percent for all companies appearing on the Inner City 100 since its inception in 1999 and an average compound annual growth rate of 63 percent.

This year’s list was culled from more than 4,500 newnominations. These companies have created close to 10,000 new jobs in the past five years.

“Despite perceptions to the contrary, our research and work has continually shown that locating all or part of one’s business in an inner city gives you inherent advantages – from workforce diversity and availability to proximity to transportation nodes and downtown,” said Michael E. Porter, founder and chairman of ICIC.

“By choosing to grow businesses in America ’s inner cities, the owners of these businesses are transforming urban landscapes across the nation,” he added.

Nominations for this year’s list were received from 150 cities, with the winning companies based in 58 cities.

The list represents the leading edge of a new approach to America ’s urban revitalization – one that relies not on charity but on the competitive advantages of inner cities. The number one company on the list, Mosaica Education, had a five-year growth rate of 7,695 percent and is based in New York City .

“I'm particularly thrilled to congratulate the number one company, Mosaica Education, which has set the standard for serving inner-city students across the country, including our own Astoria , Queens ,” said Commissioner Walsh.

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) has been studying the economic condition of the 100 largest American cities and is working to revitalize inner cities across the country. According to ICIC’s State of the Inner City Economies research, New York ’s inner city has 449,279 jobs and 36,958 establishments. In the rest of New York ’s metropolitan area, there are 7,118,768 jobs and 478,101 establishments. There are about 12.2 jobs per establishment in the inner city, compared with 14.9 in the rest of the metropolitan area.

New York City Small Business Services

NYC Department of Small Business Services makes it easier for companies in New York City to form, do business and grow by providing direct assistance to business owners, fostering neighborhood development in commercial districts, promoting financial and economic opportunity among minority- and women-owned businesses, preparing New Yorkers for jobs and linking employers with a skilled and qualified workforce.

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1994 by Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter to promote a market-based approach and cutting-edge solutions for inner-city revitalization. ICIC’s mission is to build healthy economies in America ’s inner cities that create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents. We act to transform thinking, provide cities with a new vision of economic development, and engage the resources of the private sector to accelerate inner-city business growth. For more information, please visit our web site at

#1 Mosaica Education

New York , NY
2003 Revenues: $84.4 million
Employees: 1327
Standard Five-Year Growth: 7,695%
CAGR: 197%
CEO: Michael Connelly

In early 1997 Dawn Eidelman, a humanities professor at the University of Texas, developed a humanities curriculum for K-12 students, called “Paragon,” after witnessing firsthand the insufficient preparation of her first-year university students. To implement her curriculum, Eidelman and her husband started Mosaica Education and later brought in CEO Michael Connelly, who came from a private equity background, to run and grow the company in the hopes of impacting the educational system nationally. The company now operates 25 charter schools, serving approximately 11,000 K-12 students across the country. The school locations are chosen based on where there is the greatest need- primarily in inner-city areas like Astoria , Queens and North Philadelphia . Their students score 25% above national averages on standardized tests and their teachers are well-paid, including performance bonuses. Each teacher is given a laptop, and every school has one computer for every three students - all with the same public funding per student as public schools.

#69 Cynergy Data

New York , NY
2003 Revenue: $13.9 million
Employees: 64
Standard Five-Year Growth: 327%
CAGR: 44%
CEO: Marcelo Paladini

CEO Marcelo F. Paladini and President John R. Martillo were recognized in 2002 as Entrepreneurs of the Year by the local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Cynergy is all about convenience for its customer base. The company processes credit card payments for retailers. They customize payment programs for their merchants, leaving the clients with smiles and Cynergy Data with more awards. Headquartered in Queens , NY , the company had one of the largest markets for their services in the world just a quick trip across the Triborough Bridge.

#96 American Christmas Decorations

New York , NY
2003 Revenues: $4.3 million
Employees: 91
Standard Five-Year Growth: 169%
CAGR: 28%
CEO: Fred Schwam

Decorating venues such as Radio City Music Hall , Macy’s, the American Stock Exchange, the Bronx Zoo, the Hard Rock Café and Trump Tower among others, American Christmas Decorations is New York ’s leading holiday décor firm. CEO Fred Schwam’s father started the business as a floral design shop in 1968 and since then the company has blossomed into a Christmas decorating company offering custom design, manufacturing, installation, removal, storage and refurbishing of holiday decorations on a rental or sales basis. Based in the South Bronx , American Christmas Decorations works on everything from building lobbies to hotels to movie sets and makes almost all the materials from scratch. The vast majority of their sales are concentrated in the four months around the winter holidays.

#100 Artuso Pastry

Mount Vernon , NY
2003 Revenue: $2.7 million
Employees: 46
Standard Five-Year Growth: 151%
CAGR: 26%
CEO: Anthony Artuso

Vincent Artuso immigrated to the Bronx from Calabria in Italy and took a job at a local bakery. In 1946, he bought it. The Bronx bakery location, headed by Anthony Artuso, Sr., son of Vincent, is still the primary retail outlet for Artuso Pastry. The company has expanded to wholesale from it’s Mount Vernon headquarters with customers including Stop & Shop and Food Emporium as well as supplying country clubs, restaurants, and other bakeries. Zagat gave the Bronx bakery an “excellent” rating and said Artuso made the “best cannoli this side of Rome ”. The wholesale operation, headed by Anthony Jr., has helped spur their growth and expand the sale of their Italian cookies and pastries nationally. They were recently awarded the Family Business Success Award and inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Business Council of Westchester County for succeeding in business across multiple generations and contributing to the community.

  Contact: Ben Branham (212) 513-6318