If city-ranking lists are among the least challenging of editorial outputs often built on suspect metrics, they do purport to do something really well: convey perception with about as much in-born virality as can be had.
So, yeah, the buzzy world of technology and entrepreneurship has been overrun with them in recent years. Philadelphia slides into some, slips out of others.
Why do we care? In short: the perception built around shallow lists is surely part of the hype machine that helps attract and retain talent, in addition to developing our collective sense of identity.
Let’s take a look at how we’re doing.
Consider it another list of lists:
- Inc.com ranked Philadelphia one of the Top 10 cities with the fastest-growing businesses. Philadelphia ranked No. 9, with 121 fast-growing businesses, while New York and Washington D.C. topped the list with around 350 businesses each. The list, which has 5000 businesses ranked, was based on three-year percent growth for each company. Two of the Top 10 fastest growing 121 companies located in Philadelphia are Accolade and The FlexPro Group.
- CyberCoders ranked Philadelphia No. 3 as a city with the highest amount of technology-related jobs. Houston and San Jose, Calif., were ranked first and second. The list also noted that Philadelphia had a 64 percent increase in technology jobs between 2010 and 2011.
- CyberCoders also showed that while IT labor is cheaper here than in the Valley, Philadelphia offers the 8th highest average technology salaries.
- ITBusinessEdge reported similar data, with Philadelphia making the company’s Top 10 for Tech Employment with 2,163 jobs listed, a 26 percent increase from 2011.
- Philadelphia also made the Top 10 metro areas for IT employment, as identified by Dice.com.
- Among the country’s 10 cities with the fastest growing wages.
More than just Philadelphia’s businesses are tech savvy.
- Philadelphia ranked as having the eighth fastest Internet download speeds â€“ out of 35 cities with populations over 500,000 â€“ according to Pando Networks’ 2011 broadband study.
- Philadelphia was ranked as having the ninth most social media-savvy City Hall in a study done by the University of Illinois at Chicago, which ranked the 75 largest cities in the United States, according to Ragan’s PR Daily.
- The citizens of Philadelphia are also described as having a “high knowledge about arts, humanities, IT and commerce and low knowledge about manufacturing,” according to a new study called “Knowledge in Cities” published in the May issue of Urban Studies, classifying Philadelphia as one of 11 knowledge clusters across the country.
- In 20 years, Philadelphia will be a leading arts destination, spurred digital interest and low costs, says Business Insider [June 2012]
Despite Philadelphia popping up everywhere on Top 10 lists in the technology world, the buzzing city was notably left off some technology lists â€“ while also being occasionally ranked on some unfavorable lists.
- Philadelphia was left off a list by the National Venture Capital Association, ranking the Top 10 cities for technology startups published by USA Today — Philadelphia landed at 14th nationally.
- In regards to social media, Philadelphia was reported as having some of the rudest users of Twitter. Mashable created a “Twitter HeatMap” by scanning the most uses of “Good Morning” and “F— You,” which showed that the highest concentration of rude Tweeters appears to be located in the Greater Philadelphia Region.
Technology, venture capital and entrepreneurship play a huge part in growing many businesses that launch today. Because of that attention, magazines, websites and trade groups are trying to quantify the national conversation with lists, surveys and rankings, comparing different cities in the country and trying to define which cities are leading the country in the technology world.
Philadelphia usually hovers around these lists, but they often never show consistent dominance, which could be representative of the city’s reputation nationally. The perception that the city is attracting and retaining talent, leading innovation, creating jobs and offering more opportunity, may be growing, but it’s competitive to be on the short list of such places.
That’s why these lists — with so many different methodologies — vary so widely. Philadelphia is making good on its pledge to grow its national good will, but there’s plenty of work left to do.
This report was done in partnership with Temple University’s Philadelphia Neighborhoods program, the capstone class for the Temple’s Department of Journalism. Additional reporting was provided by editor Christopher Wink.