Testimony of Steven T. Wray Executive Director, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia before Philadelphia City Council, Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy and the Pennsylvania Senate International Commerce Caucus
October 10, 2012
Good afternoon, I am Steve Wray, Executive Director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. My thanks to Councilman Oh and Senator Brubaker for convening this hearing, and for inviting me to be a part of this distinguished panel.
As I open my remarks, let me congratulate you both for your focus on the topic of Philadelphia's role in the rapidly changing global economy, and for seeking to understand how both the City and State governments can be partners with local businesses and entrepreneurs who are working to make their businesses, and as a result of their success, our region, more globally competitive.
At the Economy League, we work to bring together regional leaders and organizations across all sectors to address the most pressing and challenging issues facing the Greater Philadelphia region. Built on our historic foundation of independent, high quality analysis and practical insight, we spark new ideas, develop strategies and galvanize action to make Greater Philadelphia a globally competitive region.
Today I'd like to briefly share with you the priorities, goals and strategies identified through our World Class Greater Philadelphia effort, which we believe will serve as a framework for regional competitiveness strategy and action over the next fifteen years.
World Class Greater Philadelphia started 3 years ago as the Economy League's 100th anniversary effort with the goal of taking what we had learned in our first century of work here and applying those lessons to developing shared strategies for the region to follow as we work to be a globally competitive city in a rapidly changing and evolving economy. At its most basic, World Class is a regional version of the type of strategic planning and implementation efforts that the best companies and organizations employ to prepare for the future - working together across the entire enterprise to develop shared goals and a framework for strategy that can lead to long term success.
We put a call out for input and convened more than 1,000 leaders across the region to get their perspectives on what we needed to do to be World Class by 2026, when the world will turn its eyes here for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration. We used that input to shape four scenarios or stories of the future that Greater Philadelphia needs to be prepared for, reflecting a shifting and rapidly changing world fraught with uncertainty but rich with opportunity. The "Future Histories of Greater Philadelphia," as we called them, present vastly different pictures of what Philadelphia will face, but share some common themes.
* First, the world is changing quickly, and we should prepare for an even faster pace of change due to the growth and adaptation of technology in all parts of life.
* Second, the economy is global, and how our region connects with and interacts with the rest of the world will be vitally important to its future success.
* And third, we cannot expect government to solve all of our problems. None of the scenarios anticipate more governmental resources and all require new ways of collaborating across sectors and borders to work effectively.
We then went back out for feedback on those scenarios, and worked with hundreds of leaders to identify what we needed to focus on to succeed, no matter what the global economy deals us. They helped us identify three areas where our region should focus its attention in order to position ourselves for success - business growth, talent development, and infrastructure.
Over the past year, we have been working with key civic partners and strategy teams of regional leaders in each of these areas.
In partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's CEO Council for Growth, the business growth strategy team has been focused on developing a framework for future action where new and growing businesses fuel a dynamic regional economy that builds on our industry and research strengths and connects to global opportunities. To do that, we have to implement strategies that allow us to meet the following goals:
* Greater Philadelphia is known as a place where entrepreneurs can successfully create and grow businesses to scale
* Greater Philadelphia adapts, grows, and sustains industry clusters where it has a competitive advantage
* The region is a leader in bringing innovative ideas and technologies to the marketplace, across all industries
* Greater Philadelphia's businesses capitalize on global export and investment opportunities.
To reach these aspirational goals, the business growth team met over a five month period earlier this year to develop a strategy framework that supports efforts to:
* Increase the availability of growth capital for regional businesses
* Strengthen our innovation and entrepreneurship networks
* Support talent development strategies focused on existing and emerging industry clusters
* Foster industry/research connections to drive R&D, technology transfer and commercialization
* Market the region's business assets and success stories
* Advance Greater Philadelphia's position as a hub for global business.
Working with the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, our talent development strategy team has been focused on developing a framework for future action where Greater Philadelphia has a talented workforce where every resident has the skills needed to compete in the global economy. To do that, we need to implement strategies that allow us to meet the following goals:
* All of the region's children are prepared to start school
* All of the region's children come out of high school college- or work-ready
* Greater Philadelphia is a national leader in post-secondary degree attainment
* The region's workforce skills adapt and match industry needs
* Greater Philadelphia is a magnet for international talent.
After 5 months of work, the talent strategy team identified a strategy framework for reaching those goals that supports efforts to:
* Establish a regional partnership focused on the entire talent development continuum
* Increase the number and accessibility of high quality early childhood education slots
* Increase student exposure to high quality work and career based experiences
* Build the quality and capacity of school leadership
* Improve post-secondary access, persistence and completion
* Cultivate and promote affordable higher education options
* Expand employer-led workforce efforts.
And for infrastructure, working with the Urban Land Institute's Greater Philadelphia chapter, our strategy team will be developing a set of strategies to ensure that Greater Philadelphia has convenient connections to regional, national, and global destinations and efficiently provides the key infrastructure necessary for business success and high quality of life.
This will require that:
* Greater Philadelphia connects with the largest and fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world;
* The region's transit and road networks provide convenient and efficient connections to employment centers and destinations;
* Greater Philadelphia redevelops and improves signature regional destinations like our waterfronts and historic downtowns;
* Modernized energy and water systems and green infrastructure enhance business performance and quality of life in the region.
The infrastructure team has just started its work, but is focusing on innovative financial and project delivery strategies that can be implemented at a regional level.
The great thing about these frameworks and sets of strategies is that there are dedicated people and great organizations all over the City and the region already working on these strategies - and you've heard from many of them over the last two days. In the coming months, we will be putting forward these strategy frameworks, as a guide and template for action in the future. And those frameworks will be filled with actions already underway, as well as new efforts designed to make sure that Philadelphia fulfills its potential as one of the world's great regions. We at the Economy League will continue to work with our many partners in the region to ensure that the strategies are implemented and adjust to changes in our economy.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you and I look forward to the opportunity to address any questions you might have today and to work with you and the committees as you develop your strategies and legislation in the future.