Philadelphia is the Top City for ‘Bleisure’ Travel

Philadelphia is the fourth top city for “bleisure” travel, which is a combination of business and leisure.

A new study by TravelBank analyzed the 25 largest U.S. cities on four factors that influenced adding leisure time into a business trip: entertainment, walkability, average hotel rates, and restaurants.

“Business travel can prime the pump for future leisure travel by giving the traveler a taste of the destination,” said Wesley S. Roehl, professor of tourism management at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism & Hospitality Management.

About 60 percent of travelers admit to adding two dates onto their business trips, making it a “bleisure” trip.

Bleisure trips can have a positive impact on the local economy. Most travelers use their free time on business trips to explore the city’s restaurants, bars, retailers, and cultural institutions. Business travelers are not alone — according to TravelBank more than half of bleisure travelers bring someone with them.

Philadelphia has been a top travel destination for some time now. The New York Times named Philadelphia the number one U.S. location to visit in 2015 and number three in the world. In 2017, Greater Philadelphia welcomed 43.3 million domestic visitors, a 3 percent increase over 2016’s record of 42 million, according to Visit Philadelphia.

PHL Airport Ranked Among Best In U.S.

The Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) was ranked number seven among the 15 best airports in the United States. A new report by the Points Guy, a lifestyle and travel brand, ranked the 30 busiest airports on flying factors, such as on-time flight statistics, number of passengers per lounge and restaurant, transportation costs, and more.

“Our hope is that airports will look at our reports as tools they can use to focus their resources where improvements are most needed,” Julian Kheel, editorial director at The Points Guy, told the Philadelphia Business Journal in a recent article.

The article also points out how important rankings like these are to our region’s economy, not only because the airport is often an individual’s first impression of our region, but also since the Philadelphia International Airport generates $14.4 billion in economic impact to the region and accounts for more than 141,000 jobs.

Philadelphia International Airport underwent a $30 million renovation that included new restaurants, hold rooms and iPads throughout the terminals. This renovation could be a reason why the Philadelphia International Airport earned a spot on the 15 best airports list.

Photo credit: Visit Philadelphia

Virtua Named ‘Most Wired’ For The 5th Year

Virtua has been recognized by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) as the ‘Most Wired’ health organization for the fifth straight year.

The Marlton, NJ-based hospital received this ranking due to their leadership in the use of information technology (IT) to improve healthcare. The CHIME Most Wired program identifies practices and promotes the strategic use of healthcare IT.

“Having the right information at the right time is increasingly essential in healthcare,” said Tom Gordon, Virtua’s Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. “Virtua’s continuing designation as a Most Wired health organization shows another important way we’re committed to enhancing patient care, and to supporting our clinicians in the vital work they do each day.”

Virtua has focused on quality and patient satisfaction through their recent launch for an enhanced electronic medical recording (EMR) system called ONEVirtua.  In 2016, Virtua Health and Aetna announced their collaboration to bring high-quality and affordable health care in New Jersey.

NJEDA Boosts Innovation Economy In New Jersey

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), plans to boost the New Jersey economy through job creation, diversifying the workforce, increasing the annual median wage, and investing in urban communities.

“We need to recapture our leadership position. We’ve fallen off in venture capital investment to New Jersey companies, and we think it’s really important to recapture our leadership position there,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

The goal is to bring $625 million in venture capital to the state by 2025. This initiative is expected to:

  • Create 300,000 new jobs.
  • Increase the annual median wage by $1,500.
  • Place more than 40,000 women and minorities in STEM positions.
  • Employ 42,000 women and minorities and increase their annual wage by $15,000 to $23,000.
  • Invest in inclusive communities that reduce urban poverty rate to today’s statewide average.

“We’re trying to accelerate the process of bringing together the existing corporations who have needs in innovation, with people who have exciting ideas and prospects and see what we can do to make that grow faster,” said Donald Sebastian, president and CEO of the New Jersey Innovation Institute.

This initiative has a big focus on revitalizing areas throughout southern New Jersey. Camden, NJ has undergone a transformation that hopes to attract businesses back into the area by creating new office spaces.

Three Major Changes to Opportunity Zone Regulations

The Department of Treasury announced new regulations and clarifications on the Opportunity Zone program.

“I think Treasury and IRS took a practical approach that will facilitate investments in these designated areas,” said Lisa Starczewski, co-chair of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney’s Tax Section and Opportunity Zones team.

This initiative is a part of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to assist development in low-income neighborhoods.

Opportunity Zones are considered a “low-income community” by the U.S. census. This program can be beneficial for investors, business owners, and developers who support Opportunity Zone funds.

More than 8,700 neighborhoods throughout the country, including Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden County classify as Opportunity Zones. This revision of the Opportunity Zones regulations clarifies missing key information. Three key points from the updated proposed guidelines for the Opportunity Zone program are:

  • To be qualified as an opportunity fund, fill out Form 8996 and attach the document to your federal income tax return.
  • The incentives for investors will not expire until 2047.
  • The double-down provision has been removed. Investors will only have to make improvements based on the value of the building.

Numerous revitalization projects in Greater Philadelphia exemplify the region’s growing work-live-play environment.  In 2016, the Navy Yard was named one of the most successful redevelopment projects in the nation’s history.

Photo credit: Visit Philadelphia

Ashland Moving Headquarters To Delaware

Ashland Inc. is moving their headquarters and approximately 100 jobs to Brandywine, Delaware. The new headquarters will be located at an already existing office campus in Brandywine Springs.

The 94-year-old company is expecting to move by January 1, 2020. Ashland’s upcoming relocation will be Delaware Prosperity Partnership’s first major accomplishment since announcing their new CEO, William Kurt Foreman.

“There wasn’t a lot of selling involved because they already were familiar with Delaware,” Foreman said. “It was more about being ready with the information they were looking for to help them make their decision.”

Delaware was ranked the 5th best state in the U.S. to launch a business in 2016, according GoBankingRates.com.

Spark Therapeutics to Triple their PHL Workforce with Schuylkill Yards Move

Spark Therapeutics, Inc., a commercial gene therapy company, is moving to the Schuylkill Yards development in University City. This move will create 500 new jobs in addition to their current 262 employees. This move will allow the company to expand their research and development operations.

“This expansion is proof of our continued commitment to research, development, and innovation in West Philadelphia and of our determination to offer new genetic treatments for people living with genetic diseases,” said CEO and Co-Founder of Spark, Jeffrey D. Marrazzo.

The company received DCED funding for their expansion from a $2 billion Pennsylvania First grant for their projected job growth and a $7.5 million grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

Development projects throughout Greater Philadelphia have led to major economic growth. A 2016 University City District report revealed that development has increased hotel capacity, office vacancy and median house value.

IBX Leader Dan Hilferty Featured on Fox Business

Dan Hilferty, President & CEO of Independence Blue Cross and Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s Board of Directors, addressed issues concerning health care coverage and the cost of prescription drugs on Fox Business.

The growing concerns of the need for health care coverage for individuals with preexisting health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, were a main focus during the interview. Hilferty confirmed that Independence Blue Cross works to support those with preexisting health conditions in all communities.

As for the high prices for prescription drugs, Hilferty suggested working towards better accessibility to generic prescriptions. “We believe that if we can get generics to the market place faster, if we can educate clinicians and consumers, and if were using a pre-check program to make sure that clinicians know that they can advise patents to get a lower cost generic drug–we have to get them to the market faster,” Hilferty recommends during the Fox Business interview.

Hilferty was a recent guest speaker on Select Greater Philadelphia’s podcast, Growing Greater Philadelphia. This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at Independence LIVE shared his insights about growing up in our community, his career, and the future of healthcare.

Photo credit: Fox Business

Penn’s Innovation Hub is Delivering Impact and Growth

The Penn Center for Innovation (PCI) had a tremendous impact on the Greater Philadelphia community. PCI works to translate ideas and discoveries invented at the University of Pennsylvania into products and services that provide economic and social benefits. Their recently released FY2018 Year in Review shows an astonishing range of accomplishments for PCI over the past year.

In their last fiscal year, PCI achieved new records in commercializing the inventions of their faculty through negotiating more than 675 commercial agreements. Two Penn Co-inventors, William A. Beltran, DVM, PhD and Gustavo Aguirre, VMD, PhD, were awarded a U.S. patent for a new gene therapy for X-linked Retinitis Pigmentosa (XLRP). This is included in the 801 patents filed and 107 U.S. patents issued this year by PCI researchers.

Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences and Penn Design faculty and researchers have formed a bio-prototyping startup company called Biorealize. Orkan Telhan, Founder of Biorealize and Karen Hogan, CEO of Biorealize, developed the first product to create and test genetically modified microorganisms while using a highly networked desktop system.

Another startup founded through an exclusive collaboration and license agreement at Penn called Tmunity Thereputics, Inc. raised $185 million in 2018. Tmunity is developing the first-in-patient cell and gene therapies based on the exclusive technologies and expertise from Carl June, M.D. Twenty-four PCI-Facilitated Penn startups were launched in the past year, including Biorealize and Tmunity.

Penn was ranked number four on universities that outperform in licensing deals, number of inventions, licensing revenue, and startup creation on a per-student basis. Furthermore, Penn was ranked number four in Reuters Top 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities.

The Pennovation Center has grown their tenants and programs to 40 companies and 133 members. Pennovation is the University of Pennsylvania’s business incubator and laboratory that aligns and integrates researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs for the commercialization of research discoveries. Pennovation hosted the first Philadelphia Mini Maker Faire this summer with 1,200 attendees. It is set to open a Penn and Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC collaboration called JPOD. Penn faculty and research programs met with over 50 major international companies to discuss Penn-based partnerships.

The Philadelphia region is home to over 100 colleges and universities producing world-class talent. Temple University, Rowan University and the University of Delaware are among the top public schools in the nation.

New I-95 Interchange Increases Regional Connectivity

Travelers will now be able to drive from the top of Maine to the bottom of Florida without ever having to leave I-95. The highway construction has been more than 60 years in the making and was completed this past September.

The two new flyover ramps at the Bristol Township exit now directly connect the New Jersey Turnpike and I-95. Each ramp is 2,000 feet long, crossing over Durham Road and Veterans Highway in Bristol Township.

The highway, I-95, is the longest north-south highway in the United States and the most used highway in relation to vehicle miles traveled. Nearly 40 percent of America’s gross domestic product travels along the 1,900 mile-long highway.

“Motorists who travel in this area have been waiting a long time to realize the benefits this direct link will bring, namely reduced congestion on Bucks County roadways and improved traffic flow in the Philadelphia region and the entire east coast,” said Pennsylvania Turnpike Commissioner Pat Deon, a Lower Bucks County native in a recent Levittown Now article.

The two new ramps have made Greater Philadelphia even more accessible and connected to other major highways and infrastructure in the area. The second stage of this project starting next year, includes a new Turnpike bridge over New Falls Road, and six connections between the Turnpike, I-95, and I-295. The third stage is not expected to begin until 2025 and would connect Bristol Township to New Jersey from a replacement or second span for the Delaware River Bridge.