Regional Business Groups Engage in Efforts to Increase High-Skilled Immigration

On Wednesday, November 28th in Washington, D.C., members of the CEO Council for Growth (CEO Council), Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, met with U.S. Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware to discuss legislative opportunities to increase high-skilled immigration and improve the environment for innovation and job growth. The conversation focused on retaining top-level talent from universities and facilitating the growth of start-up companies by immigrant entrepreneurs.

Recently, Senator Coons introduced legislation to address some of these issues. In separate action, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure (H.R. 6429) on Friday, November 30th to designate green cards for foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

This summer, the CEO Council kicked off a refreshed and reenergized program that includes a commitment to advocating for a multifaceted agenda focused on the federal role in business growth and innovation. A critical component to the success of this agenda is the attraction, retention and support for top-level talent, particularly in the STEM fields. In addition, as a founding member of the National Metropolitan Business Alliance (NMBA), an association of 17 regional business associations representing major metropolitan areas across the country that value innovation, the CEO Council is working to leverage the strengths of other metropolitan areas to more effectively impact public policy.

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Iroko Pharmaceuticals and University of Pennsylvania Launch Multi-Year Young Scientist Scholarship Program

Iroko Pharmaceuticals, LLC, a Philadelphia-based pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative therapeutic products, announced last week that it has funded the creation of a new science scholarship program at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). The newly created Iroko Pharmaceuticals Young Scientist Scholarship: Planting Possibilities program is a $200,000 education initiative designed to encourage the study of the sciences among enrolled University of Pennsylvania students coming from local Philadelphia public high schools.

Under the four-year initiative, starting in the fall of 2013, two $25,000 scholarships will be awarded each year to one male and one female student. To be considered for the scholarship, students must be currently enrolled in one of several science programs at Penn including biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, biophysics, bioengineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, nursing or a pre-medical course of study. Incoming freshmen interested in life sciences who graduated from the Philadelphia public high school system are also eligible. As part of receiving the award, students will be encouraged to pursue mentoring and community service opportunities at the high school they attended during the award year.

Iroko is leasing a 56,412-square-foot, four-story building at the Navy Yard from Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners, with help from Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. according an article published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on December 13, 2012.

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JetBlue Comes to PHL with Daily Flights to Boston

JetBlue announced last week that beginning on May 23, 2013, the airline is flying 5 daily nonstop flights from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).

The airline, which operates 750 daily flights, is the 4th airline to introduce service at Philadelphia International Airport this year. Virgin America and Alaska Airlines inaugurated service to the West Coast back in the spring. In the summer, Spirit Airlines announced it is starting nonstop service from Philadelphia to Dallas-Fort Worth in April 2013.

Philadelphia International Airport CEO Mark Gale added: “JetBlue offers an exciting, customer-friendly experience to air travelers, and we are confident that the traveling public in the Philadelphia region will enthusiastically embrace JetBlue’s excellent service to Boston. This is yet another great option in low-cost airlines at PHL, helping to stimulate competition and promote lower fares.”

Philadelphia is the 78th city in the JetBlue network, which includes cities in the Caribbean and Central America as well as destinations from coast to coast.

To celebrate the new service, JetBlue has launched special introductory fares as low as $17.76 for travel May 23, 2013 thru June 19, 2013 that can be obtained by visiting www.jetblue.com.

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GPTMC Partners with US Airways Magazine to Offer March 2013 Tribute to Philadelphia

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) has partnered with US Airways Magazine on a special editorial tribute to Philadelphia and all of the people, places and things that make it an inspirational destination. More than three million people will discover reasons to visit, reasons to live and reasons to love Philadelphia.

The editorial feature will appear in the March 2013 issue of US Airways magazine and online at usairwaysmag.com for a full year. Participating organizations are not required to pay an advertising fee for their space, but are asked to cover the cost of paper, ink and transportation associated with their desired amount of space. US Airways magazine’s editorial staff will work directly with participants to develop an editorial feature that captures and promotes the mission of each participating organization. The deadline to reserve a space is January 14, 2013.

This is the second time US Airways and GPTMC collaborated to offer this program. The first one in the June 2012 issue garnered 75 pages at a media value of $569,000.

US Airways Magazine reaches 3+ million monthly readers with global reach to key business and leisure markets. For more information, contact Heather Buchman | Business Development Manager at (336) 255-0195 | [email protected].

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University of Delaware Building Future of Stretchable Electronics

By Karen B. Roberts, UDaily

Electronic devices become smaller, lighter, faster and more powerful with each passing year. Currently, however, electronics such as cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc., are rigid. But what if they could be made bendable or stretchy?

According to the University of Delaware’s Bingqing Wei, stretchable electronics are the future of mobile electronics, leading giants such as IBM, Sony and Nokia to incorporate the technology into their products.

Beyond traditional electronics, potential stretchable applications include biomedical, wearable, portable and sensory devices, such as cyber skin for robotic devices and implantable electronics.

“Advances in soft and stretchable substrates and elastomeric materials have given rise to an entirely new field,” says Wei, a mechanical engineering professor at UD.

But even if scientists can engineer stretchable electronics — what about their energy source?

“Rechargeable and stretchable energy storage devices, also known as supercapacitors, are urgently needed to complement advances currently being made in flexible electronics,” explains Wei.

Wei’s research group at the University is making significant progress in developing scalable, stretchable power sources for this type of application using carbon nanotube macrofilms, polyurethane membranes and organic electrolytes.

This, he says, requires new thinking about materials processing and device manufacturing to maximize energy storage without compromising energy resources.

To reveal a stretchable supercapacitator’s true performance, the Wei group examined the system’s electrochemical behavior using buckled single-wall nanotube (SWNT) electrodes and an elastomeric separator.

According to Wei, the supercapacitor developed in his lab achieved excellent stability in testing and the results will provide important guidelines for future design and testing of this leading-edge energy storage device.

As they work to refine the technology, Wei has filed a provisional patent to protect his team’s research. The work was recently published in Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

Two Historic Camden Properties to be Renovated and Reactivated by Rutgers

The Rutgers Board of Governors approved two renovation projects in Camden, New Jersey during its regularly scheduled meeting on the Rutgers–Camden campus on Friday, Dec. 14.

The board approved a $4.5 million renovation of 305 Cooper Street, which will be transformed into a Writers House on the Rutgers–Camden campus. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places and is known for its striking construction in the American Queen Anne revival style by renowned Philadelphia architect Wilson Eyre Jr. in 1885. The building often is referenced in its historical context as the Henry Genet Taylor House named for the doctor who commissioned Eyre to design the structure.

Rutgers will maintain the historic accuracy of the building during the renovation, which will conclude in July 2015. Significant historical features, such as windows, flooring, doors, moldings, and fireplaces, will be restored. The existing building is 6,685 gross square feet; an addition complimentary in design to the original structure will add 4,320 square feet.

When finished, 305 Cooper Street will become a Writers House that will serve students enrolled in the Rutgers–Camden undergraduate and master’s English programs, as well as the master of fine arts in creative writing program, by providing them with a space to encourage the development of their creative work. The building will host public readings by visiting authors from around the world, as well as aspiring local writers, and will provide office space for the Department of English.

Additionally, the Rutgers Board of Governors approved a $2.5 million renovation of 312 Cooper Street, which will transform the former headquarters for the American Red Cross of Camden County into a Rutgers Alumni House.

Ownership of the 8,015 square-foot structure transferred to Rutgers when the university took possession of 330 Cooper Street, the newly constructed, 12-story student residential facility, earlier in 2012. A 1,150 square-foot addition will be added to provide an elevator. Construction is expected to be completed in April 2014.

The property is made up of two earlier buildings united by a single brick façade. The western side of the building is an original, early nineteenth-century residence in the Federal style and has been classified as historical. Rutgers will work to preserve the historical characteristics of the facility throughout the renovation process.

When completed, the Rutgers Alumni House will provide a gathering spot for all Rutgers graduates, including the approximately 44,000 graduates of Rutgers–Camden. The building also will provide spaces for the alumni relations and development offices at the campus.

“These renovation projects will transform both Rutgers–Camden and our host city,” says Rutgers–Camden Chancellor Wendell E. Pritchett. “We will bring two important pieces of Camden history back to life in a way that will honor our city’s rich history and attract more people to our campus, and the increased number of visitors will add vitality to Camden’s University District.”

The construction process for both buildings will begin during the summer of 2013. Neither facility currently is in use by Rutgers.

Not a Moment to Lose

By Rob Wonderling

As the New Year quickly approaches, your Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is actively working on numerous issues at the city, state and federal level that will help your business grow. Working in collaboration with diverse groups from throughout the region, our goal is to accelerate success for every entrepreneur, fast-growing company, and small and large businesses in the 11 county foot-print we call Greater Philadelphia.

Our 2013 agenda includes the following:

City Growth Strategy

We believe now is the time to jump start our local economy by renewing the Administration’s commitment to reduce taxes on employers and employees.

While the nation’s unemployment rate is decreasing, Philadelphia’s hovers at an alarmingly high rate of 11 percent. The lack of jobs in the city requires more than 1/3 of residents in every neighborhood to commute to work in the suburbs.

Yet, right before our eyes the Greater Philadelphia region is transforming into a modern economy. From the revitalization of our refineries to the influx of technology-based entrepreneurs, creative and adaptive solutions are remaking the way the region does business.

Philadelphia has a major opportunity to capture a much greater share of regional growth as a result of this transformation, creating opportunities for residents at all educational and skill levels, but will succeed only if it changes tax policies to encourage 21st century business formation and job creation.

Reform of K-12 Education in Philadelphia

The appointment of Dr. William Hite as School District superintendent marks an exciting turning point in our city’s history. The business community stands ready to continue its work in partnership with Gov. Corbett, Mayor Nutter, the School Reform Commission, Superintendent Hite, and our broader community to ensure that there is a bright future for every child in Philadelphia.

Recognizing that our region depends upon high-quality schools that prepare every student for success in the workplace or college, the Chamber has made a significant commitment over the last several years to the education and employment prospects of our youth by assisting the School District with resources, leadership and talent recruitment, and programing such as, our early childhood literacy initiative called Read to Me Early Literacy Program and our summer internship program for high school kids in Philadelphia. To date, the literacy program has impacted over 6,000 Pre-K and Kindergarten students with book collections, training for teachers, parent/caregiver workshops, and classroom visits. And this year alone, the Chamber helped place more than 1,100 young people in paid internships in the private sector. To date, more than 6,700 youths have participated in this program.

Further Strengthening PA’s Postsecondary Education System

With over 100 colleges and universities in our region, our higher education system continues to fuel the economy and develop a talented and highly skilled workforce. As Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Postsecondary Education, we fully support the recommendations of the Commission and the development of a robust postsecondary education system that meets workforce needs.

Investment in Infrastructure

A safe and efficient transportation network is critical to economic growth — it reduces travel time and increases reliability, thereby lowering costs and leading to greater economic productivity for businesses. Yet, Pennsylvania’s infrastructure is aging significantly due to decades of underinvestment.

As such, GPCC supports passage of a comprehensive intermodal transportation funding bill that includes adequate investment in highways, bridges, transit, ports and airports.

Good Government

We believe steps must be taken now to address Pennsylvania’s pension liability issues. Tragically, this unfunded liability takes much needed funding away from education and important social services. We look forward to working closely with the Governor and members of the General Assembly to pass meaningful pension reforms for SERS & PSERS, and Act 111 changes to aid local governments in maintaining fiscal solvency.

Support for Innovation

The U.S. must structure our tax policies and rates to be competitive with world markets and continue to develop incentives for U.S. and foreign direct investment in all stages of technological development from research to commercialization, especially in Greater Philadelphia’s target industries like healthcare, energy, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing.

We advocate for policy changes that expand and make permanent the federal research and development (R&D) tax credit; create a research credit for startup companies; provide an incentive for the re-investment of foreign earnings into domestic R&D, technology commercialization, and early stage venture investments; as well as make permanent the suspension of capital gains tax for qualifying investments made in small businesses.

To increase our region’s access to a diverse pool of skilled talent and remain competitive, we must focus national and regional initiatives on improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. As the education community continues to work hard to revamp the country’s STEM education system and produce more native scientists and engineers, U.S. visa policies force top-level talent from colleges and universities to return to their home countries. U.S. immigration policies should encourage the retention of top talent.

Accessibility

The Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is a critically important asset in the Greater Philadelphia region for business travel and to attract visitors. Last year, the airport served more than 30 million passengers with more than 600 daily departures to over 120 cities.

We will continue to support efforts to expand and improve airport infrastructure as well as additional flights to new global destinations.

***

If our region is to achieve its tremendous potential, we must act now on these key policy initiatives. There is not a moment to lose.

For additional information about our advocacy efforts, please visit GPCC.com or email me at [email protected].

New Investor

Established in 1832, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC provides comprehensive financial advice and superior service to individual, corporate and institutional investors. A full-service, financial services firm, Janney is committed to providing our individual clients advice through a wealth management approach by focusing on the delivery of strategic financial plans that utilize a variety of financial products and services best suited to help meet their financial goals.

New Investor

VATv are the producers of Corporate, Industrial and Broadcast projects from around the globe. The company produces the Philadelphia Visitor’s Channel which is an exclusive in-room hotel television network serving 59 properties in the region since 1990. Over 4.5 million guests watch the program in the comfort of their hotel rooms. The company is now expanding into the Wilmington DE market with a new network called the Brandywine Visitor’s Channel. www.philadelphiavisitorschannel.com | 610-566-0150.

Adminovate Makes Room for Rapid Growth and Expansion in Philadelphia

Adminovate, an insurance software solutions company, has expanded its office space in Center City to make room for an estimated 50 employees in 2013 as part of the company’s rapid growth. The firm’s leaders said “no thanks” to San Francisco and New York and chose to grow in the Philadelphia area with help from Tactix Real Estate Advisors, Select Greater Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia, PIDC and others.

Since the company launched in January of 2012, there has been an increasing need to have a space that accommodates the firm’s growth plans as they execute on a business development and market awareness strategy along with ongoing product development. Currently the company employs 25 staff members and expects to double in size each year over the next five years.

“Adminovate leased a 5,000 square feet space at 1818 Market Street with the ability to accommodate more staff as they expand further down the road without interrupting any other current operations,” said Bill Kilrain at Tactix.

For Adminovate, the ultimate decision to relocate was a combination of the price, the flexibility in terms of growth, and the proximity to some of the other businesses. Brad Mills of Tactix noted that, “The leasing and management team at 1818 Market worked aggressively to meet Adminovate’s critical pricing and timing requirements.” The firm was also drawn to Greater Philadelphia because of its central location. Company officials noted that even if there is a resource in New York or a convention in DC, it’s just a train ride away. However, the company ultimately chose Greater Philadelphia over a place like Silicon Valley because of the deep roots and connections that exist in the Philadelphia area.

Tactix, a commercial real estate tenant representation firm, contacted Select Greater Philadelphia about Adminovate to get help with information and data on the region and business and government connections. Select Greater Philadelphia worked with Tactix to help the leadership at Adminovate better understand the government resources that might be available to the company as it locates and grows in the region.

“Adminovate could have potentially gone up towards New York or even to California, so it’s pretty exciting for us to see that they’ve chosen to stay here and to grow here,” said Alice Solomon, Assistant Vice President of Business Development for Select Greater Philadelphia.

“The City of Philadelphia was helpful in providing information on how taxes are structured and what to expect on the future impact of taxes on our business,” said Kevin Walma, Chief Information Officer at Adminovate. “Select Greater Philadelphia was instrumental in bringing everyone to the table…that was a big help because things were changing so rapidly and we needed quick answers.”

Adminovate CEO Chris Doggett said, “Our facility at 1818 Market supports our growing staff, but also creates the environment of innovation and business acumen needed to host clients, prospects, as well as our technology and service partners.”

A majority of the staff at Adminovate spent nearly 10 years working together at a previous insurance software company called “AdminServer”, a successful endeavor located in Philadelphia and later purchased by Oracle.

“We had built an insurance policy administration system that was considered not only by our customers but by industry analysts as something that had really changed the game,” said Walma. “We had taken advantage of technology to make a rules-based policy administration system that allowed our customers to develop their insurance products faster and get them to market and save money.”

About a year ago, Doggett and Chief Architect Christopher Gali got on the horn and started calling people with another software architecture idea. They wanted to get the band back together and build another company. It didn’t take much convincing for a number of them to get signed up working together again.

“What we’re building is again unique and transformational in the insurance software industry”, said Walma. “We’re going to grow really fast and we have very confident attitudes about how the company will be perceived in the market and how well it’s going to go. It’s just a matter of timing.”

The software that Adminovate develops is the backbone of what insurance companies use to administer information. When you call an insurance company representative, that person on the other end of the line is using the insurance policy administration system to take your last name or your phone number or your social and look up the coverage you have, how much premium you’ve paid, when your next premium is due, and what claims can be filed against that policy, for instance.

The company is currently in its research and development stage and hopes to have its first release candidate ready by the end of the year.

“In terms of recruitment, we’re looking for software developers with 5 to 10 years of experience working on large scale enterprise application with the combination of technology that we use here which is primarily a Microsoft-based technology.” said Walma.