Philly biz leaders are eager to get the economy back on track, albeit with an eye toward safety and equity.
Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia President and CEO Rob Wonderling testified to City Council’s Joint Committee of Finance and Commerce and Economic Development last week about steps that the business advocacy organization believes can be taken to “recharge” Philly’s economy from the shocks of the coronavirus pandemic.
Back in June, the Chamber convened members of the local business and civic community representing Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties to create the 36-member Philadelphia Regional Recharge and Recovery Taskforce.
The group’s goal is to lead a “proactive, integrated public-private effort to accelerate Greater Philadelphia’s recovery and come together as a city and region to address systemic inequalities that exist,” which includes diversity and workforce development efforts, the Chamber said. Members include leaders from the likes of CHOP, Comcast, Wawa and local universities, as well as tech names such as First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman and Spark Therapeutics’ Jeff Marrazzo.
In his testimony, Wonderling outlined these six steps identified by the group that would help the region ensure its economic recovery:
- Develop and promote coordination of region-wide testing and contract tracing program and cooperatively solidify PPE supply
- Coordinate communication strategies around healthcare provider safety, public health information and the importance of COVID-19 prevention measures
- Adopt a single region-wide pledge and threshold/certification of health and safety to show that venues are safe
- Reskill and hire under/unemployed residents into high-demand jobs for financial services and other immediate in-demand roles
- Create and get commitments to a pledge for skills-based hiring across industries
- Commit to increasing opportunities for Black- and brown-owned [small and medium-sized businesses] by partnering with large buyers to establish procurement goals and strategies
Wonderling also testified that Philadelphia has the potential to grow its life science sector to “make it the top global cell and gene therapy hub through support of research and technology being developed here.”
That idea is supported by a May report put out by the Chamber’s regional CEO Council for Growth, University City Science Center and University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative about the state of jobs in cell and gene therapy, along with the industry’s future. It found that a decade from now, we could see anywhere between the low-end projection of 7,608 new cell and gene therapy jobs and the high-range projection of 11,274 jobs.
We’ll keep an eye on next steps.-30-