The City of Philadelphia isn’t another rust belt city and shouldn’t be treated like one.
That about sums up the wide-ranging, tone adjustment that served as Mayor Nutter’s Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce annual mayoral luncheon address Monday.
“We can no longer measure ourselves as compared to other cities in the Mid-Atlantic or even throughout the United States,” said Nutter, before polite applause from the several hundred suited chamber members. “We need to market ourselves globally.”
Referencing Rome and Paris more than he mentioned Chicago or Baltimore, the half-hour speech, which addressed development, investment and a stake in the ground for Philadelphia as international city, featured a call that the technology and startup community is a means to continue to change perception. Read a transcript of the speech here.
“One of the best things to happen to Philly over the last decade has been the growth of organizations that bring big thinkers together such as our own Philly Startup Leaders,” said Nutter, before casting his support for efforts like Philly Tech Week. “Entrepreneurs want to come to Philadelphia, and we need to make it easier for them to make the right connections.”
It was the first time Philly Startup Leaders had been invited to a Chamber event, said longtime member Gloria Bell.
“But not the last,” she added.
Soon after 2 p.m., a crush of bankers, lawyers, nonprofit leaders and other corporate managers hit the escalators and spilled out of the Center City Sheraton at 17th and Race streets. The broad business community hasn’t always agreed with the administration, though Chamber chief Rob Wonderling lauded the mayor in his introduction. Still, a different tone is taken by some in the narrow technology business community, according to at least one voice.
“I really think you’re going to see a focus on entrepreneurship and economic development in his second term,” said Bob Moul, the recently named CEO of AppRenaissance and Philly Startup Leaders chief who Nutter mentioned as a model for the city’s future. “It’s an exciting kind of progress.”
Other news from Nutter’s speech:
- Comcast Executive Vice President and Chamber board chairman David L. Cohen kicked off the event by highlighting the successes of his company’s low-income Internet Essentials program, ahead of criticism by some that it hasn’t had enough impact locally yet.
- New Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne was awarded the $100,000 Powell prize, which he donated to Drexel University.
- Mayor Nutter said he will look seriously at a soon-to-be released report on privatizing Philadelphia Gas Works, a much reported comment he made in complimenting new City Council chairman Darrell Clarke for the idea.
- Among other development claims, Nutter pledged movement on three long-stalled efforts: to renovate the Reading Viaduct, to expand the North Broad Street razing, including long-hyped renovation of the Divine Lorraine Hotel and to move forward the revitalization of Market East.
- Among other broader efforts, he discussed the expansion of the Philadelphia International Airport.
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