Guest Commentator: Pete Cramer, Director of Development, Wexford Science + Technology Center @wexfordscitech

How are new developments in University City a reflection of the trajectory of development and economic growth throughout the overall region?

I can’t recall where I heard this anecdote, but it always stuck with me. I am paraphrasing but essentially the comment was:

“The best economic development strategy is to build a University and wait 200 years.”

When I think of University City and its growing impact on the region, I am always reminded of this quote and its relevance to Philadelphia’s economy today.  The dense co-location of three leading universities, two world-renowned academic medical centers, and several specialized independent research institutes has created an employment base of over 80,000 jobs which is larger than some cities in the Midwest. Philly is not often boastful when it comes to economic development but I think we should be excited about the impact this neighborhood has had on the region and the potential impact that is yet to come.

The growth in “impact” can be illustrated in many forms with metrics that can often be massaged or tweaked to tell a version of a story that you want others to hear. In the world of real estate, however, growth is easily measured by the naked eye. A site that was once a parking garage is now a research building or a vacant plot of land is now a beautiful green space.

The proximity to institutions is fundamental to University City’s changing skyline but there are other forces at play which are propelling sustained growth and development:

  1. New Neighborhoods – From uCity Square to Schuylkill Yards and Pennovation, University City will be adding over 12 million additional square feet of new office, lab, residential, retail, hospitality, and green space over the next 10 years.
  2. Innovation Amenities – To create an ecosystem for companies of all shapes and sizes, organizations like the Science Center, Cambridge Innovation Center, Biolabs, Venture Café, and Quorum offer spaces and programs to help start-ups and entrepreneurs grow and collaborate with one another.
  3. Clustering Effect – Just recently, there have been three major announcements related to companies which are propelling a clustering effect of life sciences companies in University City, not unlike other life science hubs such as Kendall Square.
  4. Rising Tides – To connect local residents with the employment opportunities in University City, organizations like UCD, Science Center, and Wistar are championing forward-thinking training and educational programs, such as:

In today’s society, the pace of change is staggering. In the last 20 years, Google has re-imagined the internet, Uber has propelled a sharing economy, and Septa is no longer offering tokens! In the next 20 years, Penn will celebrate its 300th birthday and I can only imagine what impact we’ll be blogging (or maybe vlogging) about by then.

The Chamber’s Select Greater Philadelphia Council tells the powerful story of Greater Philadelphia as a global leader—in business, education, life sciences, health care, innovation, entrepreneurism, and more—inspiring businesses large and small from around the world to make our community their home.

Upcoming Event

Breaking Ground: Projects that are Transforming the Region
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
8:00 – 10:30 a.m.
University of the Sciences
Science & Technology Center