After more than 100 years of conducting research on the region’s economy, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia was ready for something more ambitious.
The organization, whose Center City office holds two bookshelves full of its research, now had “an appetite for impact,” said Josh Sevin, deputy director the Economy League. It didn’t just want to be “a distiller of complicated information,” Sevin said.
That’s why it launched its World Class Greater Philadelphia initiative last March, a set of shared goals for helping the region flourish. The idea was to help focus all the region’s various efforts because, as Sevin said, Philadelphia is only going to move forward if everyone’s on the same page.
Economy League director Steven Wray previewed the initiative at last year’s Regional Affinity Incubation Network conference.
The World Class initiative focuses on three areas:
- Business Growth
- Education and Talent Development
Learn about the infrastructure arm of the World Class Greater Philadelphia initiative at the Economy League’s event on June 20 featuring former Pa. governor Ed Rendell. Get more details here.
The World Class initiative is the result of more than three years of speaking with regional leaders and identifying priorities, Sevin said.
The goals themselves aren’t particularly newsworthy (“Increase the availability of growth capital” and “Market the region’s business stories” are two of them), but that might just mean that the World Class effect is already working: these goals have become part of the tech scene’s narrative. The Economy League wanted to identify them so the region could rally around them.
Why is the Economy League making the move from straight research to crafting a mission-oriented agenda?
The attitudes around Philadelphia have changed, for one, Sevin said.
“I don’t know if you could have gotten away with doing something called World Class Greater Philadelphia 15 years ago,” he said. “There might have been too much ‘Negadelphia.'”
World Class Greater Philadelphia is also staying true to the Economy League’s research roots, Wray said.
“This is still research-based,” he said. “Research backs up all of this.”
The Economy League now wants to be part of the follow-through of that research, Wray said.
Now that the World Class Greater Philadelphia framework has been defined, the Economy League will work on pushing that agenda by highlighting efforts that align with its priorities (see: its blog posts on StartupPHL and the PHL brand). Wray also stresses that the World Class agenda is not static. It’ll change as the city changes.
The World Class agenda is about “thinking about things we can control in light of those that we can’t,” he said.
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