Downtown and upbeat

Businesses have been fleeing the inner city as quickly as the suburbs can pass 20-year tax abatements. But there have been a few stalwarts, business that lie snugly in and immediately around their downtown. Inc. magazine recently ranked the 100 fastest growing companies, and six Cleveland companies made the cut.

Thermagon was the highest ranked local company at sixth. President Carol Latham, a 1998 Entrepreneur Of The Year winner (SBN July 1998), had 2,662 percent sales growth between 1993 and 1997. Thermagon manufactures thermal conductive materials for electronic devices.

In describing Latham’s accomplishments EOY Director Ed Eliopolous explained what separates entrepreneurs from other business owners.

“She did it in a very nontraditional sense,” he says. “She was not able to borrow bank money. She did it in an area that nobody would move a business into and she did it with employees that most people would not even want to interview.”

Complete Payroll Management Inc. came in 26th with 384 percent sales growth. CPM moved to its Carnegie Avenue location in November 1997. CPM began as staffing solutions company Minutemen before branching out into the payroll processing field.

“There’s a commitment on part of the Minutemen group to the inner city and Inc. magazine recognized that by redeveloping a historic plot of land in the inner city, Minuteman revitalized almost an entire city block,” says Michael Settonni, director of marketing for CPM. “What was an eyesore for 10 years along Carnegie Avenue is now a beautiful corporate center.”

The location offers several benefits.

“At the time it was much more economical than going out to the suburbs,” says CPM Vice President Jay Lucarelli. “We feel we’re at the center of everything. We have access to go in just about every direction; it just make things more convenient.”

According to Settonni, “Minutemen, for a long time, has been a real anchor in the Midtown Corridor, active with the Midtown Corridor Association, and an example to other businesses how you can come down here, (and) do business.”

ColorMatrix, profiled in SBN in November 1997, earned the 37th spot with 245 percent growth. The company manufactures liquid color concentrates for the plastics industry. Also included in the top 100 inner city businesses were No. 50 Ullman Electric, a electrical contracting services provider with 162 percent growth; No. 73 Talan Products, which contracts manufacturing and metal stamping with 123 percent growth; and No. 99 Even Cut Abrasive, a manufacturer of abrasive specialty products with 74 percent growth.