The Roadmap for Growth is a multi-year initiative of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce to engage Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council in a shared agenda to promote economic growth and job creation in the City of Philadelphia.
What can we work on collaboratively to make Philadelphia the best city in the country in which to do business?
Philadelphia is already a good place to do business but we can make it even better by tackling some of the obstacles businesses perceive to moving into the city or remaining here. Top priorities include making the tax situation more favorable for businesses and employees, opportunities for capital for new and growing businesses, improving education so that families with children want to live and work here, and enhancing our skilled work force. The city’s tax structure has long been considered a thorn in the side of business. Formerly known as the Business Privilege Tax, the tax applied to local businesses makes Philadelphia less favorable than neighboring counties as well as other cities with which we compete to attract new business. Similarly, the wage tax on employees working in the city is hefty and more so on those who also live here. The tax burden is particularly acute on small and emerging businesses. The administration and the business community need to collaborate to bring the tax burden down and to offer meaningful tax incentives to foster investment in the city and growth.
In order for new businesses to plant their seeds here, for emerging businesses to grow and prosper and for established businesses to remain and expand, they all need access to capital. For established businesses with strong track records and ties to mainstream funding, this may be less of an issue. But the city needs to encourage and support new businesses and growing small businesses, especially in the neighborhoods outside of Center City. Doing so will make the neighborhoods more vital and safe by providing jobs, and goods and services that residents need to thrive. Start-ups and small growing businesses often struggle for the capital they need to sustain themselves and to take advantage of opportunities. The city and the business community can join forces to encourage joint investment in these endeavors. Tax and other benefits can be awarded to funding sources that put their money into much needed business in developing and revitalizing areas of the city.
Tax incentives and capital may be what is needed to get a business up and running or help it grow, but those things are not enough if we don’t have educated talented workers to perform. The education issues in the city are manifold, but the administration and the Chamber are collaborating to make a real dent in this problem, beginning with the Mayor’s initiative for universal pre-K. Our public school options must also improve or families with young children will continue their exodus with parents seeking employment closer to home. Education and training in the skills needed for today’s jobs and jobs of the future is also essential.
Discuss this and other Questions for the Roadmap at the upcoming policy forum: Mapping Economic Competitiveness on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.