Nutter:”I am Keeping My Focus On the Future of Philadelphia”

Mayor Michael A. Nutter addressed the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce at their annual Mayoral Luncheon and President’s Circle Reception.

Also during the luncheon, the 2011 Edward Powell Award was presented to Richard Hayne, President, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Urban Outfitters.  The Edward Powell Award is presented every four years by the Board of Directors of City Trusts.

Check remarks against delivery.  The speech follows:

“Chairman Hankowsky, President Wonderling, members of this great Chamber, City Council President Clarke, members of City Council, County officials, members of the General Assembly, Governor Corbett and members of his Administration, elected officials, members of my Administration, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

As I begin my second term, I’d like to thank each of you for your support and advice. You are invested in Philadelphia and have been critical to our city’s success over the last four years. I look forward to calling on you as we work together for a cleaner, healthier, safer, smarter city over the next four years.

As I look back on my first term, it’s clear that Philadelphians are getting things done every day in new and extraordinary ways, and across the country, people are noticing. The 2010 Census confirmed that Philadelphia’s population grew for the first time in 60 years. Much of this population growth was driven by immigrants and young, educated professionals—diverse individuals who came to Philadelphia, saw what we have to offer and chose to stay. They are developing new businesses, innovating in established fields, and making Philadelphia an international, 21st century city. I want to thank Greg Osberg and his team for creating today’s Philadelphia Inquirer “Economic Empowerment” insert highlighting many of these entrepreneurs and companies. New and longtime residents are changing the city’s story. Philadelphia is growing again.

But it’s not just individuals driving growth in Philadelphia; it is also our businesses. In September, I hosted a video contest, as part of the Smart City. Smart Choice. campaign I launched right here two years ago, to find the best pitch for why companies should be in Philadelphia. One of the interesting things we found was that many of the participating companies were younger—or acted that way—, and tuned in to the new, innovation and information-driven economy. These companies, and their video messages, say something important about the city we are becoming. Take a look.

Please join me in congratulating the winners: Viridity Energy, United By Blue, and Urban Engineers.

And so this afternoon, I want to talk about Philadelphia—an international city.

Our dynamic companies are driving Philadelphia’s increasingly global reputation as a city of ideas, a place where ingenuity is celebrated. This vision of Philadelphia as a world-class city has been championed by the Economy League, which is developing a strategy for keeping us moving in that direction. In a more and more globalized world, we need to promote Philadelphia at an international level to attract investment. International companies are coming, staying and growing in Philadelphia: Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Mark Group, Aberdeen Asset Management, Hyundai Rotem, GlaxoSmithKline, Agusta Westland. Companies come here because they see we’re a city on the move. That’s exciting, but it’s not enough. We need to go out and tell our story. Grab people and bring them here because once you’re here, you don’t want to leave. Philadelphia is positioned for international growth, and we’re going to attract new industries, new companies, and new jobs.

These companies see Philadelphia as a critical member of the global marketplace, and this is how I see our city also.

My Administration’s approach to economic development, education, government reform and infrastructure renewal reflects a consistent philosophy that is aggressive, global in scope yet capitalizes on the economic and cultural assets that make Philadelphia unique. All of the investments made by my Administration have been guided by a vision of transforming Philadelphia into a global, knowledge-based economy that still runs the gamut from shipbuilding and rail car assembly to food production, culture, education, research and high technology.

When I talk about the new economy, I’m talking about the things we have always done well such as high-end manufacturing that uses the latest robotics or sophisticated logistics in automated warehouses.

I am also talking about our world-class education and medicine communities, Eds and Meds, which are a major reason Philadelphia’s economy kept moving through this recession. Increasingly, not only are we growing in the education and medicine sectors, there is also growth in what I call E and S—energy and sustainability. Clean tech, green tech, information tech create jobs for people from a GED to a PhD.

All of these signs point to a new Philadelphia with an economy that reflects our changing world. And while we are still suffering from the effects of a global recession, it is certainly good news to report that our unemployment rate has dropped four consecutive months. And we’re seeing the same thing at the national level, with unemployment now at 8.3%, the same level as it was in February 2009. Over the last year, the economy has added almost 2 million jobs nationally. President Obama and our entire Congressional delegation are to be commended for supporting economic recovery funding that has supported projects and jobs in Philadelphia. We are not where we want to be yet, but we are certainly moving in the right direction.

I believe that Philadelphia’s future is in play right now, we’re at a critical moment, and if we work together, we can accomplish great things. Only together will we realize a vision for the future of an international Philadelphia, a city people choose to buy their homes, to educate their children, to open their businesses, an international city that is full of great hope for a prosperous future.

To realize this future of an international city, we need to invest in Philadelphia’s infrastructure and people today.
My Administration is working to make Philadelphia more livable because place matters. Companies think about place when they recruit employees, woo customers, and manage logistics. Workers think about place when they choose where to work, live and raise families. I think about place too and improving Philadelphia’s built environment will remain a top priority in my second term.

Last week, we broke ground on the $50 million dollar renovation of Dilworth Plaza, which—after employing 900 construction workers—will rival the parks of Paris, London and Rome—ours will be the People’s Plaza for the People’s Hall.

On the Delaware waterfront, we opened the Race Street Pier and Connector and will complete the trail network, from Pennsport to Tacony. On the Schuylkill, the trail is extending below South Street. Soon Philadelphia will boast the two best waterfronts in the nation.

These types of exciting developments are also happening in neighborhoods all across our city:

  • There has been revitalization of Woodland Avenue, El Centro De Oro and Girard Avenue East.
  • Baltimore Avenue has the City’s first pop-up park in front of the Green Line Café.
  • Bustleton and Castor Avenues have thriving Russian and Brazilian immigrant businesses.
  • Market Street West between 46th and 63rd streets is a prime corridor for growth and development, right under the newly renovated El.
  • We hope to redevelop the Reading Viaduct with the Center City District in the Callowhill/ North Chinatown neighborhood—our own “High Line Philly”.
  • Xfinity Live will be opening in March in the Sports Complex area.
  • And less than one year ago, we opened the newly expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center, which has created demand for 1,000 new hotel rooms in Center City.

And where we are headed now is toward the renaissance of two of Philadelphia’s great boulevards: Market Street East and North Broad Street.

On Market Street East, we supported the relocation of Philadelphia Media Network to 8th and Market. We are working closely with PREIT to redevelop the Gallery as well as the surrounding blocks and will be attracting new retailers into the area on both sides of Market Street. We are focused on working with businesses and retailers to make a cleaner, safer, more enjoyable experience for everyone and to stop the code violations and behavioral problems that currently hold this area back.

I am committed to returning Market East to its former glory, creating a walkable boulevard from City Hall to the river–a connector from our city’s historic heart to the central business district and cultural corridors.

Families finished visiting the sites on Independence Mall will walk to 13th Street’s Midtown Village or Rittenhouse Square for dinner, or even stroll all the way down the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Museum, which will soon make Philadelphia the art capital of the world. And we’re letting the world know about it through our campaign with the GPTMC, With Art Philadelphia.

Furthermore, I think we all know the time for the renaissance of North Broad Street has arrived. The signs of renewal are everywhere:

  • The expanded Convention Center;
  • The creation of Lenfest Plaza at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts;
  • The construction of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s new studios;
  • The dining destinations of Osteria, Route 6, Alla Spina and Via;
  • The impending redevelopment of the Inquirer building; and
  • Temple University’s investment of $200 million to help revitalize this street.

North Broad Street has an incredible diversity of people, interests, uses and possibilities. We’re going to do this right, and we need your help. Part of this strategy is to identify where we can work together, and where the government can also spur growth and development. And I have just the place to start: we are actively pursuing opportunities to transform the Divine Lorraine.

It is an historical monument and a keystone to our redevelopment of North Philadelphia. As I speak, there is renewed interest in the Divine Lorraine with my team—and City Council President Clarke—directly involved in the rebirth of this great Philadelphia building.

Market Street East and North Broad Street—two of Philadelphia’s great boulevards and two of our city’s greatest economic opportunities.

One of the most critical assets cities have is the ease of getting around. Part of the reason Philadelphia is a city with a global business network is because we have the infrastructure in place to travel around the city, get to the suburbs…or around the world.

We need to continue to work with our partners in Harrisburg and Washington to invest in the crucial transportation infrastructure projects that keep this region moving.  As Mayor, I am always considering what can Philadelphia do today that will give us a competitive edge tomorrow.

Philadelphia’s marketplace is global, integrated and increasingly competitive.

And so with that in mind, let me talk about the Airport. The Philadelphia International Airport is a major job generator for the region—beyond employees, the Airport gives us access to foreign markets and export opportunities. Competitive cities and regions have great airports that are attractive to passengers and airlines alike.

In collaboration with the Federal government and our airline partners, we will break ground to enhance Philadelphia International Airport’s capacity for planes and people. That means new or renovated terminals and improvements for takeoffs and landings.

The FAA has already committed $500 million dollars to our project – combined with non-airline revenues nearly half the costs of some of the major projects will be covered.  We could create tens of thousands of construction jobs and nearly 3,000 permanent jobs would be created for concession employees, skilled trades, and airline employees. Philly International is truly the economic engine for our region.

Doug Parker and US Airways, Southwest, UPS, this Chamber, and our other airlines have been ‘partners in progress’ with us. We are working through the complexities of this important project because we have a great working relationship. Every airport and region that has successfully grown has experienced turbulence along the way, and we will too. We are seeking to do what is in the best long-term interest of the city, the region, our citizens, our travelers and our airline partners. It’s a big project, but by working together, we’re going to get it done, right.

The need for more international and domestic flights is why we need to grow the Airport. We’ve recently welcomed a new carrier—Virgin Airlines—and this growth is critical to our international success because Philadelphia is a global city. In fact, Global Traveler Magazine presented us with the Best Domestic Business City award just recently.
As we come out of the recession, Philadelphia needs to integrate more fully into the global marketplace, and I will become even more personally involved in our aggressive push to attract international investments. Our world is getting smaller. We can no longer measure ourselves as compared to other cities in the MidAtlantic or even throughout the United States. We need to market ourselves globally.

I plan throughout my second term to find these international investments and, with your help, bring them back to Philadelphia. Everyone in this room has chosen Philadelphia or the region, and I need you to go with me as we spread Philadelphia’s story across the globe. Comcast, under the leadership of Ralph Roberts, Brian Roberts and David L. Cohen, is taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities of robust international operations and expansion around the world. In fact, Comcast won the rights to broadcast, through 2020, the most highly visible, international stage in the world –the Olympics.

We are a world-class city with world-class amenities, infrastructure and talent. We are creating a more formalized international travel and business exchange program, our Consular Corps is extremely supportive, and we host international events like the annual Flower Show and the Major League Soccer All-Star game, which we just recently announced with Mayor Linder of Chester, who is here today. I promise to spread the word that Philadelphia is a dynamic city for both domestic and international investment. As the global economy continues to improve, we will be well-placed to benefit.

In addition to promoting Philadelphia internationally, one of the most important ways I can support economic growth is by creating a positive business environment. My Administration is doing just that in a number of ways.

The Commerce Department with Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger and PIDC, under the leadership of John Grady, have been working together closely to invest in the right kind of businesses that will propel Philadelphia forward. The City and PIDC are coordinating now more than ever, making sure our economic development strategies and our financial tools are operating in synch.

Elsewhere in government, we’ve cut the number of licenses and permits in half, we’ve put all City business information online, and we’ve reformed government with a clear, simplified, transparent zoning code complemented by Philadelphia 2035, the first comprehensive plan and zoning reform in the City in nearly 50 years.

We’re providing job training to those who have served their time and need a second chance, and tax breaks to those companies who want to hire these returning citizens who are qualified and ready to work.

We have been creating more opportunities for minority, female, and disabled-owned businesses and even surpassed our target participation rate of 25% in 2011. In fact, the minority contractor capacity building program we started in August is wrapping up this month. Over the past six months, these companies learned how to increase their bottom lines and become prime contractors.

Let me say it again—Prime Contractors! I’m counting on our city and regional business community to partners with and utilize our growing minority, female and disabled business sector to “hire local, contract local” helping our economy and our citizens.

And of course, I know that along with these kind of changes, we need to keep improving our tax environment. I established that commitment as a councilmember and I ran on that platform in 2007, and while we’ve had a difficult few years, I’ve stayed committed to that goal.

Through cooperation with City Council, support from this Chamber, and especially with Councilmembers Kenney, Quinones-Sanchez, and Green, we will:

  • Eliminate the $300 licensing fees for all new businesses,
  • Exclude the first $100,000 dollars in gross receipts from taxation,
  • Institute single sales factor apportionment across all sectors, and
  • Reduce the burden on small and start-up companies operating in Philadelphia.

This is a first step in making sure that Philadelphia remains competitive in the years to come, but the actions I just mentioned will also help to lower your business costs over the next two years.

We’ve renamed the Business Privilege Tax to the Business Income and Receipts Tax and expect that the wage and business tax cuts that were suspended will be reinstated in FY2014.

Let me say it is truly the City’s privilege to have your company in Philadelphia.

And while we’re on the subject of taxes, I agree that we need to think creatively about sources of revenue, non-tax revenue. Our partners in City Council, under the strong leadership of City Council President Darrell Clarke, recently came up with a list of ways to raise needed revenue for the City. One idea on that list was municipal asset sales. As City Council stated, the City of Philadelphia has many assets and some of them have a greater value to the private sector. Selling some of those assets could not only raise money for the City, but would also, to quote from Council’s report, “represent an opportunity…to focus [the City’s] attention and expertise on core services, and benefit from the operational and financial experience of private sector entities.” Any proposal will require extensive analysis and due diligence, and I applaud City Council for championing the idea. My Administration is ready to work with City Council on it. In fact, we will soon release a detailed analysis prepared for us by Lazard that examines the possible sale of PGW to a private entity.

Now, I’ve laid out my vision for Philadelphia—an international city. But the only way for us to be a truly international city, a great city, a global city, a progressive city is to be an educated city.

Despite our growth potential, our new businesses, our high quality of life and our high-growth sectors, Philadelphia will not truly compete globally unless we have an educated, 21st century workforce.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it again: education is our poverty reduction strategy. It’s also our crime reduction strategy, our employment strategy, our growth strategy. Education is central to everything we’re striving to achieve in Philadelphia.

Currently, more than 60 percent of the jobs in Philadelphia require some type of post-secondary education. However, only 46 percent of Philadelphians have a degree or skilled training. We must do better. We are working with our colleges and universities to ensure young Philadelphians have a place in these schools. But we are also working with schools and the community to make sure our students are up to the challenge.

The Freedom Rings Partnership with the Urban Affairs Coalition and its many community partners, the Digital On-Ramps initiative supported by IBM, and the Internet Essentials program by Comcast are helping us to shrink the digital divide and connect our young people and workers to educational opportunities, jobs training and jobs.

We are making these investments in education so you won’t have to look elsewhere when you need talent for your business. In the 21st century job marketplace, students are expected to have completed internships and to have a resume before they graduate. So we need your help. Provide jobs and internships for students during the summer months and the school year. In addition, get the parents you employ thinking about what their kids will be doing this summer. Send out email blasts about the wealth of available summer programming and post it near the water coolers. Learning doesn’t stop in June, and our young people need experience, focus and an opportunity to succeed.

The School District of Philadelphia has been making great strides but…our education system needs continued help and support.

On Friday, the School District announced all weekend programs will be cancelled and after-school programs will close an hour earlier in the evening. The SRC and Chief Recovery Officer Tom Knudsen will unfortunately need to make further cuts ahead as the District seeks to close a significant budget gap. We’ve come too far to fall behind. We must make strategic cuts, strategic investments and strategic partnerships.

This is why the School District and charter school community is working together in the Philadelphia Great Schools Compact, which is an agreement to support the top performing “seats” in Philadelphia’s schools. It also means that we will improve or remove the lowest performing 50,000 seats in the Philadelphia school system. The Compact is about creating a system of great schools.

I’ve called on our business community to support the District in the many challenges it faces preparing tomorrow’s workforce. I would like to publicly thank the Chamber for being a critical partner while we work to reform and restructure our education system and replace programs and schools that do not work. No child should sit in a bad seat.

We need the best prepared teachers for our students if we expect them to succeed. I need your help to identify additional professional development opportunities for our teachers and administrators to improve their effectiveness in the classroom so that they can utilize their professional training to prepare Philadelphia’s students for the 21st century workforce.

I would also like to thank the business community for their commitment to the District in supporting the Financial Systems and Operations Working Group, which is led by some of our city’s greatest private sector managers and is providing guidance to take on some of the most difficult challenges the District has ever faced.  The Working Group is beginning the process of a broad transformation of operations at every level.

There will come a time when I will need to ask for greater support and assistance from this business community, but only when a specific plan is developed with defined goals and deliverables. The SRC and District management must show all of us a turn-around plan that is broadly supported and represents a “commitment to success” by all stakeholders including represented and non-represented employees.

Education, infrastructure, workforce, taxes: all of these reforms point to a new Philadelphia—an international city, which reflects the worldwide changes happening in our economy now.

One of the best things to happen to Philly over the last decade has been the growth of organizations that bring big thinkers together such as our own Philly StartUp Leaders. This organization helps businesses to help themselves by identifying capital, facilitating networking and offering advice to entrepreneurs. This collaborative business environment is the future. Bob Moul, the new president of Philly StartUp Leaders, is exactly the type of leader we need. Bob is here today, and he’ll be joining a new venture soon right here in Philadelphia. It’s this kind of commitment to a new Philadelphia that we will need to get us where we want to go.

We have a whole community of organizations that are creating a network of entrepreneurs who are based in Philadelphia and have connections around the world. Philadelphia recently posted the third strongest growth in technology jobs in the country. And you know what? This is not surprising to the people who work in Philadelphia’s tech community. This is why the City is a sponsor of Philly Tech Week. Entrepreneurs want to come to Philadelphia, and we need to make it easier for them to make the right connections.

All of us from government, non-profits, the civic community and businesses must work together to realize our vision for our future. If we all work together, I know we can do big things.

I know we can create a system of great schools where students are surrounded by adults who demand excellence.

I know we can have predictable and constructive development where neighbors and developers respectfully work together to build their communities and to further grow our great city.

I know we can have a healthy city where obesity, smoking and other chronic illnesses stop driving up the cost of care, and where the quality of life for our citizens in every neighborhood is high.

I know we can create a more sustainable city where we become the “city on a hill” for energy efficiency and green infrastructure. We are well on our way to becoming the greenest city in America.

I know we can be an even safer city. We’re safer today than when I came into office four years ago, but that’s not good enough.

Two weeks ago, I announced that we will be offering up to $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a murderer and up to $500 for an illegal gun. I’ve authorized more overtime to put more police officers on the street right now and partnered with District Attorney Seth Williams to send a message to those who carry illegal guns on the streets of Philadelphia: Got a gun, go to jail. Right now. Let’s use the laws we have to keep violent criminals off our streets.

Every act of violence shreds the human fabric of our society. I know we can stop this violence through the will of good people who will no longer stand for this behavior.

There is great hope for the future of our city. Philadelphians have resilience and perseverance. We don’t allow anyone to hold us back; but sometimes, we hold ourselves back. There are still some people in this city wedded to the idea that Philadelphia is only ever second best. Well, that’s just not true. We’re actually an incredible city of firsts. Philadelphia had the first medical school, first library, first fire department, first US stock exchange, first computer. The list goes on.

There should be no Doubting Thomases here. Just walk outside and you can see the greatness of our city for yourself. But that doesn’t mean we should be satisfied. We’re not done yet.

I am keeping my focus on the future of Philadelphia, and I need you to have that focus as well. We need your help, and I am making a call to everyone in this room to be an ambassador for Philadelphia. Whether you are in Washington or Harrisburg to promote policies that help your businesses, abroad in London, Shanghai, Rio or Mumbai considering new ideas or projects, or even talking with a friend who lives in the suburbs and hasn’t ventured into our city in a decade, be our ambassador. The best way for us to be known as Philadelphia—an international city, a world-class city, is for you to go out and attest to our ingenuity, our ambition, our resilience.

I love Philadelphia; it is my hometown. I also know everyone in this room loves Philadelphia because you have chosen this city.  You have chosen to make it your home and the place for your business. Be our ambassadors, share our vision for an international Philadelphia, and I promise you, there is nothing we can’t do when we work together.


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