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(W)inner City

When it comes to untapped entrepreneurial potential, the city's where it's at.

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This story appears in the December 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The battle for businesses seeking funding to brave the inner city may still be uphill, but it's not as steep a climb as it once was. Encouraged by the revitalization of once-stagnant neighborhoods such as New York City's Harlem, more small businesses have been seeking and getting buy-in.

Oliver Wesson is president and CEO of The Retail Initiative Inc. in New York City, a nonprofit real estate investment vehicle that helps inner-city retailers get high-quality facilities. Wesson helped finance some of the first chain stores that ultimately became anchors for dozens of small businesses now lining Harlem's busy streets-and he remembers when businesses wouldn't dare set up shop there. "It's easier today," he says of getting funding for inner-city projects. "We've got some success stories now. Banks are more interested in lending than they were 10 years ago."

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