Civic News

How tech fits in to the Chamber’s new campaign for job creation

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's "Roadmap for Growth" is meant to set Philly's economic development agenda for the next five years — by highlighting what's working and what's not.

Philadelphia City Hall. (Photo by Flickr user Steve Ransom, used under a Creative Commons license)

The Chamber of Commerce is planning ahead.

The membership-based economic development organization launched the “Roadmap for Growth” today, an initiative to prepare for new city leadership in 2016. Sponsored by Comcast, PECO, Temple University and other organizations, it’s an effort to get everyone — local leaders and candidates for mayor and City Council — on the same page with regards to job creation in Philadelphia.

See the report

“It’s one of the best things the Chamber has ever done,” Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen said to a crowd that included several possible mayoral hopefuls, including former Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority head Terry Gillen, Councilman Jim Kenney, State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and City Controller Alan Butkovitz. (We know because they all got a special shout-out.)

The data-driven plan is reminiscent of other city- and region-wide plans for growth and improvement, like the Economy League’s World Class Initiative and City Council’s new Community Sustainability Initiative.

“The city is on the brink of its biggest renaissance yet,” Cohen said.

The campaign includes:

  • Doing a demographic analysis by Econsult Solutions (who’s also doing City Council’s Community Sustainability Initiative).
  • Gathering input from community leaders.
  • Holding forums for leaders, including mayoral candidates, to discuss issues presented in the Roadmap.
  • Assembling a team of advisors that will help the city’s new leaders fulfill the Roadmap’s goals.
  • Publishing a final report that details what the city’s new leaders “must” do to accelerate job creation.

It’s not about “how to divvy up the pie,” it’s about “how to get the pie to grow,” said PECO executive Denis O’Brien said of the plan.

Tech companies and startups are among the kinds of businesses Philadelphia should attract, according to the Roadmap for Growth. The report talks of attracting businesses that “offer higher than average wages” and that “are driven by innovation and drive up productivity growth.”

The city has already attracted a “large number of tech startups,” Cohen told Philly after the event, noting that he’s excited by “the influence of technology in Philadelphia” and a brain drain reversal.

Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen (left) being interviewed by Philly’s Juliana Reyes (right) at the “Roadmap for Growth” launch event. (Photo courtesy of Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce)

Here are other technology-relevant highlights from the report:

  • Though Philadelphia’s technology sector has shrunk by 28 percent from 2002 to 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report said that employment in certain high-tech sectors has been growing. Econsult president Stephen Mullin also noted at the event that there had been a large increase in Philadelphia-based sole proprietorships and startups in the last decade.
  • The Chamber recommends that schools double down on STEM education.
  • “The city has a business tax structure that slows down innovation and makes it difficult for entrepreneurs and start-ups to locate in Philadelphia,” the report said.
Companies: Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia

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