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What’s Mayor Kenney’s next tech move?

At our Mayoral Tech Town Hall, Kenney spoke at length about his plans for supporting the local tech sector. "StartUp PHL 2 is beginning, and then it's just about keeping on it," he said.

Mayor Kenney speaks at Introduced, by in jam-packed room. (Photo by Christopher Wink)
Mayor Jim Kenney has been going to tech office openings and industry events since he took office in January 2016. He’s asked questions to startup founders, he’s strapped techno gizmos to his head and given his blessing at pitch competitions.

Ask Kenney how he plans to get past the literal stage of “showing up” for the tech community and the first thing he’ll tell you is to keep your eyes on StartUp PHL’s second fund, a $3.5-million push to back local startups.

“StartUp PHL is a very effective program,” Kenney told this reporter and a jam-packed room at the Science History Institute on Thursday, during Introduced by, the headlining event of Philly Tech Week 2018 presented by Comcast. “StartUp PHL 2 is beginning, and then it’s just about keeping on it: keep expanding our IT department and keep getting people that are extremely competent and can interact with the community at large.”

Kenney, a big fan of nonprofit Coded by Kids (and, really, kids overall), touched on the recent workforce development plan put forth by his administration and a 40-member stakeholder committee. He named founder Sylvester Mobley’s nonprofit, the Community College of Philadelphia and TechGirlz as key stakeholders the city looks to connect with to help grow local industries which, like tech, show a thirst for highly skilled talent.

On the subject of city identity, and how Philly can hold its own against other innovation corridors, Kenney stumped for preserving local identity and public-private partnerships:

“We should not aspire to be Silicon Valley or New York,” Kenney said. “We should be who we are while remaining competitive. Bottom-up government collaboration with the tech community is key. You’re our customers and, just like any business, we get feedback and rationalize resources based on that.”

On Philly’s Amazon HQ2 bid, Kenney asked to focus on the potential upside of the city’s growth by way of a project of that scope.

“We’d love to have the opportunity to manage that growth of 50,000 jobs coming to the city,” Kenney said, adding that now the city is prepared to offer a quick pitch to other companies looking to establish themselves here.

But undoubtedly, the highlight of the panel was a two-word retort from Kenney, which we’ll present without context for your own amusement:


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