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[Recap] – Local Leaders Discuss Expanding Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Economies

Posted Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Programs & Events, Member News, Public Policy, Advocacy, Press Releases, Economy, home-inthenews-2, Roadmap

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia through its Roadmap for Growth initiative, hosted a policy forum on expanding neighborhood economies at WHYY’s studios on Thursday, April 28. Many ideas were highlighted in front of an audience of 150 attendees that included large and small businesses as well as neighborhood and civic organizations.

This policy forum featured a keynote address from Commerce Director Harold T. Epps as well as remarks from Manuel Portillo, Director of Civic Engagement, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians; Matt Bergheiser, Executive Director, University City District; Mike Innocenzo, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, PECO; Evelyn Smalls, President & CEO, United Bank; and John Grady, President, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. Jim Rosenfield of NBC 10 moderated the discussion.

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The purpose of the Roadmap’s three policy forums this spring is to build a catalog of short-term actionable ideas that Philadelphia’s business and civic community can work on in conjunction with the Kenney Administration and City Council. Each program features significant audience participation in bringing ideas to the forefront of the discussion. Some of the ideas highlighted included:

  • Encouraging larger businesses to become Community Development Corporation tax credit partners;
  • Leveraging partnerships with grassroots organizations to make a more inclusive and successful environment for immigrants;
  • Scaling or replicating the West Philadelphia Skills initiative in order to connect unemployed people with skills and jobs close to home;
  • Fostering opportunities for mentorship between large and small businesses that can lead to business relationships;
  • Extending more financial services for small businesses that enable them to expand; and
  • Creating a stronger and more positive message around activity in neighborhoods in order to encourage investment.

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Audience members, including Michael Banks of the African American Chamber of Commerce, Della Clark of The Enterprise Center and Mercy Mosquera of Tierra Colombiana restaurant, weighed in with ideas for government to consider, including:

  • Hiring locally, especially youth for their first job;
  • Creating a Keystone Retail Zone for commercial corridors akin to a Keystone Opportunity Zone;
  • Embracing businesses that are making a difference in low-income neighborhoods;
  • Providing more support to business associations that inform business owners of important legislation, programs and tax credits; and
  • Continuing to expand language services or offerings in other languages for entrepreneurs.

Here’s what people had to say on Twitter, find more using #PhillyRoadmap:


The Roadmap for Growth launched in July 2014. Its activities have included eleven Listening Tour meetings, three Issue Forums, a live televised mayoral debate, fact-based demographic and economic analysis, and candidate questionnaires. In December, it released a second report to serve as the basis of a shared agenda with the Kenney Administration and City Council. The Roadmap has engaged with 145 civic organizations over the course of the campaign and added nearly 70 partners. More information about the Roadmap can found at www.roadmapforgrowth.com.

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