A New Day. A New Way.
By Susan H. Burnell
Courtesy of Jim McWilliams; Philadelphia CVB
Philadelphia, a city rich in history and accomplishment, is focused clearly on new and history-making goals. With bold leadership and vision, emphasis on high-performing government and strong partnerships, Philadelphia is celebrating a new day and a new way of doing business.
Shortly after taking office in January 2008, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter set forth a strategic plan for the city. It includes specific, measurable goals for refinements in public safety, education, jobs and economic development, healthy and sustainable communities, ethics and customer service. Nutter aims to make Philadelphia the national leader in each area.
“There is a renewed sense of energy among and commitment to Philadelphia’s business community,” says Joseph A. Frick, president and chief executive officer of Independence Blue Cross and 2008 chairman for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. “Business leaders are encouraged by Mayor Nutter’s commitment to work on city and regional challenges such as infrastructure, transportation and taxes, in partnership with stakeholders across our region.
“The city administration has recognized the importance of creating and supporting a business-friendly environment,” Frick adds. “They have recruited talented individuals who have experience making cities and businesses work together successfully. This is the kind of leadership and vision that business leaders — those who are here and those who are looking for a new place to call home — want to see from the public sector and at every level. It reinforces the public sector’s commitment to entrepreneurism and economic development.”
Philadelphia’s progress as a city is an ongoing story of partnerships — between the public and private sectors; city and suburbs; with large national companies, small local businesses and labor leaders; and among dozens of concerned individuals, organizations and elected officials. “We have strengthened links among the cultural, civic and not-for-profit communities as well,” adds Frick. “That’s all part of ensuring that our region, with its rich and historic past, has an equally vibrant and promising future.”
“I grew up in Philadelphia. So did Comcast. We’ve been here for over 40 years. We started as a small regional cable company, but today, we’re a leading innovator in communications and entertainment.
“Six months ago, we opened our new corporate headquarters, the Comcast Center. It’s already a landmark and a tourist attraction, too. We’re one of the region’s biggest employers and economic contributors. A recent study estimated that Comcast will generate nearly $3.3 billion in economic activity in the Philadelphia region this year, supporting over 26,500 area jobs — more than double our impact just four years ago.
“Why are we so committed to Philadelphia? Because it has talented people, great educational institutions and a wonderful quality of life — strong public transit, terrific restaurants, one of the world’s best orchestras, amazing art museums, and more.
“You can tell we’re proud of Philadelphia. We hope you’ll join us here.”
Courtesy of Robin Miller; Philadelphia CVB
“The Philadelphia region is a great place to do business,” says Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Andrew Altman. “We have many thriving companies, a world-class convention and tourism industry, a high quality of life and a lower cost of living than many other cities. We are making great progress by creating a more business-friendly government, growing our global brand and lowering taxes. We have a thriving community. Philadelphians love where they live, play and work.”
“From an educational, cultural and diversity standpoint, this is a great place to attract and retain employees,” says David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast Corporation and 2008-2009 chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. “Yet, there has been a misperception that it’s difficult to do business in Philadelphia. One of the things we are working on is to counter that perception, and to send a strong message to the national business community that Philadelphia is open for business. That is amply enforced by our tax policies and good political leadership, including Mayor Nutter and Governor Rendell.”
“Philadelphia has created a ‘one-stop shop’ for businesses
looking to start or expand in Philadelphia. Customer
service is the guiding principle of this government’s
interactions with small businesses in this city.”
Mayor Michael A. Nutter
Among Mayor Nutter’s strategic goals is to change the tax structure, which will encourage job creation and income growth. That’s in addition to local tax reductions already in effect.
“Corporate executives might be surprised to hear that, unlike almost any other city in America, Philadelphia has cut local taxes, including its business tax and wage tax, for 14 consecutive years,” says Cohen. “Those cuts have been incremental, but in the aggregate, have totaled a stunning $1.9 billion. The city and the community have shown, through these tax reductions, that they are committed to making the city competitive from a business perspective.”
Other parts of the mayor’s strategic plan are designed to create an environment that encourages people to live and work in the city, says Cohen. “To keep people in the city, we need to build the demand side for employees and expand the economic opportunities available to them.”
Project Management Institute
For nearly 40 years, PMI has helped project professionals around the world speak with one common language, no matter their industry, geography, or whether they manage projects, programs or portfolios. This common language steers organizations toward achieving repeatable, predictable results — critical when $12 trillion is being invested in infrastructure and capital projects worldwide over the next 12 months.
With over 420,000 members and credential holders in 175 countries, PMI advocates that the practice of project, program and portfolio management can enhance and accelerate organizational change — driving innovation, improving bottom line performance and strengthening competitive advantage.
“If you don’t know this organization, find out what they do,” urged Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes, at a recent Forbes Leadership Meeting. “The practice of project management will be the activity that makes or breaks many global companies in this economic environment.”
Courtesy of Edward Savaria, Jr.; Philadelphia CVB
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce contributes to the city’s economic development goals in a number of ways, says President and Chief Executive Officer Mark S. Schweiker. “We have a great sense of shared responsibility and destiny with Mayor Nutter’s economic development efforts. We have worked in cooperation with the mayor’s administration to encourage the City Council and the business community to accept a continued reduction of the city wage tax and a first-time reduction in the net income portion of the business tax. “In sum, we are working to make Philadelphia more affordable and attractive to site-selection firms and C-level executives who make decisions to relocate or expand.”
Mayor Nutter recently created the Office of Economic Opportunity, charging it with providing comprehensive support for minority-, woman- and disabled-owned businesses throughout the city. “This fundamentally changes the relationship between small and minority-owned businesses and the city of Philadelphia,” says Nutter. “We are serious about support for minority-owned businesses in Philadelphia. For the first time, the office will be housed at the Department of Commerce, giving it direct access to the full array of business development tools.”
The city is also making it easier for local businesses to access the information and services they need to succeed. Its new Office of Neighborhood and Business Services partners with small and minority businesses to help support business growth and job creation.
Strong Regional Cooperation
Schweiker also chairs the CEO Council for Growth (CEO Council), a group of prominent business executives committed to growth and prosperity in the 11-county Greater Philadelphia region that spans southeastern Pennsylvania, northern Delaware and southern New Jersey. The CEO Council oversees Select Greater Philadelphia, the Chamber’s economic development marketing arm. “The more we work together, the more attractive the entire region will be to companies, investors and entrepreneurs,” says Schweiker.
Source: Select Greater Philadelphia Regional Report 2008
The group has set a regional growth agenda that includes initiatives for high-wage jobs, new business opportunities and wealth creation. The CEO Council is an affiliate of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey and the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. The CEO Council is also the governing board of Select Greater Philadelphia, which markets the region’s business assets nationally and globally.
“Economic development is not a zero-sum game,” says Nutter. “What is good for Philadelphia is good for the region and vice-versa. I have met with leaders from the surrounding counties and we all agree: The only way to get ahead is by working together.”
Since 1958, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) has served as Philadelphia’s economic development entity. The private, not-for-profit Pennsylvania corporation was founded by the City of Philadelphia and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. It addresses the financing and real estate needs of business and nonprofit employers in all neighborhoods to retain and grow local employment. PIDC also coordinates city and state tax incentives, and workforce development programs. During the past decade, PIDC has also become the city’s point agency for developing major public-purpose facilities.
Throughout its 50-year history, PIDC has closed a total of 5,350 individual transactions with combined project costs of $15 billion, which have contributed to retaining and creating more than 442,000 jobs in Philadelphia.
PIDC is also responsible for converting former Department of Defense sites for civilian use, most notably The Navy Yard. Located on the Delaware River, the site occupies 1,000 acres. The Navy Yard Master Plan envisions the property as a mixed-use development attracting more than $2 billion of private investment in office, research, retail, residential and recreational projects. The U.S. Navy, Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, Penn Ship Repair and Urban Outfitters are among the property’s current tenants. A portion of the site, designated as the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ), has attracted a variety of technology-based companies. PIDC is also working with Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners to develop 72 acres with 1.4 million square feet of class-A office space.
Courtesy of Edward Savaria, Jr.; Philadelphia CVB
There’s a new vibrancy in downtown Philadelphia. “Center City,” as it is known, continues to gain momentum, attracting new business, residents and visitors.
A perfect example of the city’s quick growth is the 58-story Comcast Center, headquarters to the nation’s leading technology, media and entertainment company. “Comcast Center is a monument to success,” says Schweiker. “It’s concrete evidence that the company believes growth will occur here. Its decision to build downtown sends a signal to small and large businesses that they can enjoy the same positive future.”
The Comcast Center opened in June 2008 and is already becoming an economic catalyst for the city and the commonwealth. Its ongoing activities are projected to generate $1.2 billion annually in total expenditures, supporting more than 6,500 jobs and $460 million in total earnings for Philadelphia. As the nation’s tallest “green” building, the structure is a shining example of cutting-edge design and sustainability.
“Brian Roberts could have built Comcast’s headquarters anywhere, but he chose Philadelphia,” says Comcast Executive Vice President Cohen. “Our investment here sends a loud message to companies of any size: You can locate here, attract a good workforce, grow your business and make it successful over the long run.”
Comcast Center features 1.25 million square feet of class-A office, restaurant and retail space;
a dramatic eight-story winter garden with Jonathan Borofsky sculptures; a half-acre public plaza with
a café and fountain installation; and “The Comcast Experience,” a giant high-definition video wall.
Courtesy of Comcast Corporation
Construction of the Comcast Center also included approximately $30 million worth of public improvements, including the dramatic new gateway to Suburban Station, a renovation of the station’s concourse and a new public plaza at street level.
“We wanted to have a building reflective of our business,” says Cohen. “It’s innovative, sleek and modern, without being ostentatious. Inside the lobby is our gift to the city: The Comcast Experience. Spanning 83 feet wide by 25 feet high, it’s the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world — and it has incredible clarity. With 10 million pixels, it has five times the resolution of a high-definition television. The Comcast Experience has proven to be a major tourist attraction and source of civic pride. When we showed the first Phillies playoff game live on the screen, we had hundreds of people in our lobby watching.”
The Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC), located downtown, is leading the largest economic development project in the state: A $700 million expansion that will increase the site’s footprint to more than 1 million square feet and create 2,000 hospitality industry jobs. The expansion, when complete, is expected to generate $10 million in income tax revenue for the state and contribute $150 million annually to the regional economy.
“The expansion will drive hotel development, small-business development and employment opportunities in the local hospitality and tourism industry,” says Ahmeenah Young, president and chief executive officer for the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.
The luxury residences at 1706 Rittenhouse Square Street, now under construction, are another gleaming indicator of downtown’s power of attraction. With five-star amenities, 1706 Rittenhouse is adjacent to fine shopping and dining and within walking distance of The Curtis Institute of Music, the Academy of Music, the Wilma Theater and the Kimmel Center. Each residence of the 31-story building will occupy an entire floor.
Select Greater Philadelphia
The CEO Council for Growth (CEO Council) is a group of prominent business executives committed to growth and prosperity in the 11-county region across northern Delaware, southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania. CEO Council is the governing board of Select Greater Philadelphia — an economic development marketing organization dedicated to building the economy of the Greater Philadelphia region. It is a private, nonprofit organization that focuses its resources on enhancing the profile and image of the region’s business community in order to attract businesses.
Select Greater Philadelphia, a private, nonprofit organization, markets the region nationally and globally in order to establish Greater Philadelphia as a top-tier place to do business. Select provides confidential and complimentary services — from market intelligence to key contacts to regional site tours and more — throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.