Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro took office in January 2023, promising to enact policies that slash red tape, streamline processes, and make it easier to do business in the Commonwealth – and his first year has been spent making that happen.
Now, Philadelphia Mayor-elect Cherelle Parker is promising much of the same for the Commonwealth’s largest city. The first woman and Black woman mayor in the history of Philadelphia campaigned on a platform of inclusive economic growth that puts a premium on creating jobs and improving the quality of life for all Philadelphians.
“It’s about growing the tax base,” Mayor-elect Parker said in a radio interview during her campaign. “Firms are making decisions about whether or not they will locate or begin here in our city. They have to determine whether or not the environment will be safe for the workforce and if we have a prepared workforce.”
During her time on Philadelphia’s City Council and while campaigning for mayor, Mayor-elect Parker has emphasized lower wage and business taxes, cleanliness, safety, and inclusive job creation. It’s a welcome formula for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia (the Chamber), an organization charged with attracting new businesses to the region and helping those located in Greater Philadelphia to prosper.
“The support of our state, regional, and city leaders is nothing short of a renaissance in how we support economic opportunity for all,” said James Medaglio, Director of Business Attraction and Expansion for the Chamber. “Governor Shapiro and Mayor-elect Parker take a collaborative approach emphasizing public-private partnerships that ensure all have a voice, and all will benefit.”
Pennsylvania residents saw what was to come on Governor Shapiro’s first week in office when he signed two transformative executive orders. The first established the Pennsylvania Office of Transformation and Opportunity (OTO) and the Economic Development Strategy Group under the direction of entrepreneur and former Tinuiti CEO Ben Kirshner. The second aimed to streamline the Commonwealth’s licensing, permitting, and certification processes and establish a date-certain for each application. If applicants don’t receive a response by that date, the agency responsible will refund their application fees.
The actions were designed to tie together existing Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agencies more comprehensively to improve the economic climate, attract companies to relocate or expand, and improve talent attractiveness.
This month, the Commonwealth launched PAyback.pa.gov, an online system allowing residents, businesses, and nonprofits to check their refund eligibility if permits and licenses haven’t been processed in time. The system, the first of its kind in the nation, allows Pennsylvanians to see the prescribed processing time for each application. If the application was not processed within that timeframe, they can request a refund of their application fees. Even more critical than the refund is the greater confidence and predictability in your “journey” to do business in the Commonwealth.
“This [Shapiro] Administration is competitive as hell – and our ultimate goal remains to issue zero refunds because we are continuing to deliver services on time, and this system will help keep us accountable,” Kirshner said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Mayor-elect Parker has long supported efforts to cut across perceived lines and bring people together to improve the city for businesses and residents. During her time on City Council, she created Philadelphia Taking Care of Business (PHL TCB), an effort to engage community nonprofits to sweep sidewalks and remove litter in neighborhood commercial corridors. The program also recruits and hires returning citizens with these efforts, provides resources for storefront improvement grants, one-on-one support for existing businesses, funding for local organizations to promote and improve neighborhood shopping areas, and streetscape improvements.
Another priority of Mayor-elect Parker is Power Up Your Business, which she built with the Community College of Philadelphia. Power Up Your Business is a free neighborhood-based support system for small business owners in Philadelphia. It brings entrepreneurs and business owners together to learn from each other, providing education and training to help them adapt to challenges and run their businesses more efficiently and profitably.
Power Up Your Business offers a variety of programs, including a 12-week peer-based course in small business management that provides training and tools in areas such as financials and accounting, marketing, insurance, legal, and human resources. A separate series of small business workshops are held in various neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia.
During the past six years alone, Community College of Philadelphia has helped nearly 400 small local businesses increase revenue and jobs and provided counseling and resources to 1,000 more. Power Up Your Business is also the number one feeder to the national Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program that provides continued education, capital, and support services to take businesses to the next level.
“Mayor-elect Parker understands that inclusive growth and local job creation means supporting our local business community, both big and small,” said Will Carter, Vice President, Local Government Advocacy and Engagement at the Chamber. “Like the Mayor-elect, the Chamber wants the region to be clean, green, safe, and welcoming to businesses, and we are well on the way to achieving that.”
For more information about Mayor-elect Parker’s economic growth plans, see the issues page of her website. For more stories about companies and developments that are driving the economy in the Greater Philadelphia region or for more information about locating or expanding here, visit the Select Greater Philadelphia website or contact James Medaglio, Director, Business Attraction and Expansion, at [email protected].