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The Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth Conference Delivers Business Case for Engaging Nontraditional Workers

Posted Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Programs & Events, Advocacy, Roadmap for Growth, Diversity & Inclusion

On October 31, 2017, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia (the Chamber) hosted With Growth and Prosperity for All: A Roadmap for Growth Conference at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia business leaders from across sectors spoke about best practices in how to hire, train and retain returning citizens, veterans, and the immigrant community and discussed neighborhood-based initiatives and onboarding through various TANF training programs.

The conference included two panel discussions that centered on different aspects of hiring from underserved Philadelphia populations.

“Our leadership recognizes that Philadelphia and the region cannot thrive unless all of our neighborhoods have access to economic opportunity,” said Rob Wonderling, President & CEO of the Chamber. “We must focus on a job creation agenda that can be inclusive and uplift all residents. Today’s conference showcases how the business community is playing a role in widening the opportunities available for the diverse pool of talent here in Philadelphia—and how businesses can continue to not just have an impact on their workers but also have an impact on their bottom lines.”

During the first discussion, Driving Impact from the Inside Out, Bottom Up, panelists spoke about how they’ve made recruiting nontraditional workers a priority and how they have worked to make this practice part of their corporate culture. The panel included speakers Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President of Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast, Michael Robinson, Director of Community Outreach and Hiring at Temple University, Nick Bayer, Founder & CEO at Saxbys, Michael Pearson, President of Union Packaging LLC, and was moderated by Sara Lomax-Reese, President of WURD Radio.

“There’s no city with as much prosperity behind us and opportunity ahead of us,” said Bayer. “The only reason that Saxby’s has seen such immense growth is because of both the talent in Philadelphia and the fact that we are a mission-based organization.”

The second panel, When Social Impact Meets Bottom-Line: Tests and Triumphs, focused on the challenges and successes of recruiting nontraditional workers. Panelists included Donna Allie, President & Founder of Team Clean, Inc., Emily Bittenbender, Managing Partner of Bittenbender Construction, H. Patrick Clancy, President & CEO of Philadelphia Works, Kenneth D. Penn, CPM, CCIM, President of Community Property Management, Inc.; the discussion was moderated by Jane Von Bergen, Reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“We want to employ people that come from low income neighborhoods, build companies where we can train people to be mechanics and carpenters and workers, and ultimately engage workers that will generate revenue for our companies,” said Bittenbender. “We need to work together as a community to expand the piece of the pie for everyone in order to ensure that these populations are engaged in Philadelphia’s workforce.”

The Honorable Mayor Jim Kenney, Rob Wonderling, President & CEO of the Chamber, Jay Coen Gilbert, Co-Founder at B Lab, and Mitch Little, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity all spoke to the importance of recruiting from Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods in order to strengthen both their business and their community. Roadmap Co-Chairs David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast and Pedro A. Ramos, President and CEO at the Philadelphia Foundation were in attendance.

“I am a firm believer that all of our residents have the potential to achieve great things, no matter what zip code they were born in, what schools they attended, or what hardships they may have faced,” said Mayor Kenney, who addressed conference attendees. “When you hire someone from these kinds of communities after they have been shut out for so long, they are eager to show their gratitude, and it is reflected in the quality of their work.”

The Roadmap for Growth Action Team

The Roadmap for Growth Action Team (Roadmap) unites Chamber members to engage with a broad range of civic and neighborhood organizations in the development and execution of policies and initiatives that enhance the economy, encourage civic engagement and support an efficient and impactful government. Roadmap seeks to further expand our collaborative efforts with Mayor Kenney, City Council and other agencies. Roadmap actively engages for- and non-profit Chamber members through its activities as well as Neighborhood Partners that have an active interest in Philadelphia’s quality of life.

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