These could be called the True Grit awards.
Four Philadelphia firms were named in the 11th annual Inner City 100 list last month by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, to recognize successful small companies with a commitment to urban areas.
One of the local businesses - No. 51 on the list - is Amuneal Manufacturing Corp., whose recession experience is a lesson in small-business grit and perseverance.
The family-owned Frankford company makes metal parts for aircraft cockpits, artworks, and many other uses. Amuneal is on the ICIC's list a second time. But chief executive officer Adam Kamens, 38, says recent months have been enormously painful.
Two rounds of staff cuts since November have reduced his workforce from 100 to 65, and revenue, which was $19.6 million in 2006, will be about $10 million this year.
"We make things for other people, and their business cycles become our business cycles," Kamens told me Friday.
Being forced to lay off "people who stood shoulder to shoulder with us" over the years has been "incredibly gut-wrenching," Kamens said.
Yet he sees a silver lining. "The downturn in the economy has probably facilitated something that we would not have been brave enough to do on our own," Kamens said. He said growth - more than 500 percent over seven years - had boosted the quantity of work going out the door, but "we weren't getting better at what we were making."
The contracted company "really changed culturally. It felt more like it did five years ago," with greater efficiencies, fewer obstacles, Kamens said.
Amuneal was started in 1965 by Kamens' parents, Seymour and Harriet Kamens. Locating in Kensington was one requirement of the $5,000 Small Business Administration loan the couple took out back then.
"When we could afford to move out of the city," Adam Kamens said, "it just seemed like the wrong thing to do."
The other Philadelphia firms on the Inner City 100 list are Avencia Inc. and Stroll, both of Center City and listed at 13 and 62 respectively; and Perryman Building & Construction Services Inc., of West Philadelphia, at No. 94.