Over the past six years, the Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth initiative has been engaging and uniting Chamber members with a broad swath of civic and neighborhood organizations to lift and improve Philadelphia’s economic and civic life. Building on this work, the Chamber has launched the new PHL Neighborhood Growth Project (NGP) to leverage the ideas and conversations that started in Roadmap into proactive policies that nurture inclusive growth.

NGP focuses on four key areas:

  • Inclusive Growth and Good Jobs
  • Workforce Modernization
  • Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods
  • Putting People First at City Hall

Among the policies gaining support are targeted tax credits to boost startups, improved workforce training and education options, and strengthening and expanding reform measures in City Hall.

Defining Neighborhood Growth

On Wednesday, April 17, 2019, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia hosted Roadmap for Growth: Defining Growth for Philadelphia.

We posed the question “Is Philadelphia Growing?” to a room of 160+ attendees. This event also saw the release of our Defining Growth for Philadelphia report, which looks at data on a percent change basis over a four-year period to establish patterns of growth. This report benchmarks Philadelphia against nine peer cities in addition to looking at the same data across Councilmanic districts, which was introduced by Ethan Conner-Ross, Director, Econsult Solutions.

David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast, advocated for cooperative action and to be honest of current challenges the city is facing. He shared, “Working together, we can meet and ameliorate these challenges.”

Roadmap for Growth: Defining Growth for Philadelphia

Guest Speakers included Ethan Conner-Ross, Director, Econsult Solutions and panelists Councilman Allan Domb, Philadelphia City Council At-Large; Michael Cooper, Manager, External Relations, Leonardo Helicopters Philadelphia; Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr., Founder, President and CEO, Esperanza; Soneyet Muhammad, Director, Workforce & Economic Inclusion, Drexel University, who focused on job creation in Philadelphia.

Panelists Councilman Derek Green, Philadelphia City Council At-Large; Peter Gonzalez, President & CEO, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians; Michele Newman-Lawrence, Regional Director, Managing Director, Chase Private Client and Chase Investments, JP Morgan & Chase; and Ken Tomlinson, Chief Financial Officer, NextFab focused on business creation and development.

The third panel explored real estate development, which included Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, Philadelphia City Council, 9th District; John Grady, President & CEO, PIDC; and Susan Lowry, Vice President, Marketing Director, JLL.

Key takeaways from the panel discussion

Proper skills training plays an important role in connecting people to jobs

Leonardo, the Italian helicopter maker with a large facility in Northeast Philadelphia, offers good, high-paying jobs in industrial manufacturing. Yet they struggle to find qualified candidates that have the right training for the job. Panelists shared that Career Technical Education (CTE) skills, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship should all be prioritized and incorporated into our education system so our citizens are better prepared to enter the workforce.

The Chamber’s PHL Neighborhood Growth Project calls for boosting career and technical education programs, as well as strengthening workforce initiatives.

The process for starting a business in Philadelphia remains difficult

Many business owners, including some of the panelists, still experience difficulty navigating the process for starting a business. Immigrant entrepreneurs experience an additional language barrier. Other regions, Columbus, Ohio and Delaware for instance, offer an online “one-stop shop”, making it easy and accessible for people to apply for a business license and connect to other resources that they may need.

The Chamber’s PHL Neighborhood Growth project calls for the city to pass a Small Business Bill of Rights which would bring fairness, equality, and transparency to the process of business formation.

Stabilizing middle neighborhoods leads to better real estate development

One way to stabilize middle neighborhoods is to preserve and modernize existing housing stock. Connecting people to resources and capital allows for neighborhood residents to maintain and update their homes in a more affordable way. Programs such as the city’s Restore, Repair, Renew program, offer low-interest loans to low and middle income homeowners looking to repair their deteriorating homes. Panelists agreed that the 10-year tax abatement offers valuable benefits, but that the program needs to be reformed so that benefits are more widely felt throughout communities.

The Chamber’s PHL Neighborhood Growth Project calls for shortening the duration of the 10-year property tax abatement and reinvesting the recouped revenue into a dedicated “Neighborhood Renaissance Fund” to help revitalize neighborhoods outside of Center City.

The Chamber’s PHL Neighborhood Growth Project will bring Philadelphia’s business community, civic leaders, neighborhood organizations, and residents together with city government in an all-hands-on-deck effort to fight for shared prosperity in every corner of the city.

Stand with us and support our inclusive, pro-growth agenda:

  • Join our coalition – Join the growing coalition of organizations and businesses in support of NGP
  • Stay informed – Sign up for email alerts and follow us on Facebook and Twitter
  • Show and share your support – Declare “I Support Neighborhood Jobs” on social media
  • Tell your clients and team – Include information about our pro-growth agenda in your company-wide updates

The Roadmap for Growth Action Team (Roadmap) engages and unites Chamber members with a broad swath of civic and neighborhood organizations in the development and execution of a pro-growth, pro-jobs common agenda to lift and improve Philadelphia’s economic and civic life.

Connect with Anna Bohl-Fabian at abohlfabian@chamberphl.com to learn more about Roadmap or NGP.