(Photo by Mitchell Leff for the City of Philadelphia)
Philadelphia is on the rise.
Its tech sector, at least.
Though more than half (57 percent) of the region’s tech jobs are in Montgomery and Chester counties, the city has seen an explosion of tech jobs in the last five years and that growth has outpaced every suburb in the Philly region, according to a CBRE report.
“While the existing Tech presence in the region is entrenched in the suburbs, the momentum appears to favor the city,” the report said.
Tech jobs in the suburbs (Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware counties) grew 11 percent.
It’s a local trend we’ve reported on at length, as we’ve seen tech company after tech company open offices in the city to be closer to talent; the Nutter administration take pains to turn Philadelphia into a startup-friendly city; and the city’s millennial population grow at a nation-leading clip.
While much of the region’s venture capital lands in the suburbs, some investors — specifically angels — are shifting from the suburbs to the city, angel investor John Moore said in a recent interview.
Angel group Robin Hood Ventures, where Moore is a managing partner, used to host its monthly meetings in Chesterbrook and Plymouth Meeting, but two years ago, it started alternating between Plymouth Meeting and Philadelphia. Now, the group meets exclusively at the University City Science Center’s Quorum space at 3711 Market Street. It’s the same for the Keiretsu Forum, another local angel group which, for more than two years now, has met monthly at law firms in Philadelphia (first it was Blank Rome in Center City, now it’s Baker Hostetler in the Cira Centre).
(Still, most of the local venture capital firms, like Safeguard Scientifics, Osage Partners and New Spring Capital, remain in the suburbs. First Round Capital and SeventySix Capital are city-based exceptions.)
Montgomery County is the overall leader in tech jobs, with one in three tech jobs in the region located there in Q1 of 2014, according to the report. That’s no doubt due in part to major employers like Unisys, eBay Enterprise and Lockheed Martin. The report doesn’t list those numbers for Philadelphia — as a point of comparison, in 2011, only one in ten regional tech jobs called Philadelphia home.
Montgomery County, on the other hand, is lacking in tech employees to fill those jobs, while there’s a glut in the city. This point in the report doesn’t seem to fit with the local and national narrative of the talent crunch, in which employers say they’re struggling to find good people quickly enough.
Amid all the city/suburbs distinctions, we’ll echo what several founders have said: the Philadelphia tech community would do better to think of itself as one cohesive region.
As Gabe Weinberg, founder of Paoli-based DuckDuckGo put it: “I feel this [city/suburbs] divide is ridiculous. Philadelphia itself is a huge place. I see no useful distinction in terms of startups between Conshohocken and Manayunk, for example, even though one of them is technically in Philadelphia.”-30-
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