It's Time: A World Class Greater Philadelphia


August 14, 2009

Up Front

The global financial crisis isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. But it could be Greater Philadelphia’s road to a world class future.

Right now, the global economy is in a state of almost unbelievable turbulence. From the biggest banks to the smallest shops, every entrepreneur faces new challenges. From the mightiest nations to the humblest villages, every public official grapples with growing responsibilities.

And while crisis means challenge, it also means opportunity. The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia believes that the only responsible way to answer today’s challenge is to find and seize the opportunities to bring our region a world class level of prosperity.

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When we began to consider Greater Philadelphia’s long-range economic future, it didn’t seem to any of us that world class was too much to ask. Our region is already home to a strong network of world class institutions large and small. Our schools, hospitals, and cultural attractions stand with anyone’s. Our collective brainpower is unmatched. We sit in the heart of one of the most powerful and infl uential regions on the planet. We gave birth to the ideas that shaped the world as we know it.

And yet, uncertainty rules the day, and with good reason. No one knows for sure what the changes around us mean for the institutions and industries that have sustained us. No one knows for sure which of our strengths could soon become weaknesses – or which of our weaknesses could evolve into strengths.

For the region we love, a world class future demands a world class effort to answer these questions. It is the essential challenge of this time.

That is why this volume of Insight is vital. In it we examine why world class matters. We look carefully at how Greater Philadelphia stacks up in the eyes of the world. We consider the lessons learned from past attempts to land world class events, and we introduce the strategy the Economy League will employ to chart a course toward a world class future.

And while that strategy is evolving, it will follow the model we’ve used successfully for a century. We won’t set an agenda or present a vision. We will convene the diverse and thoughtful leaders who make our region tick and help them define a path that we can all share.

Like every other place in this nation, Greater Philadelphia faces big decisions about its priorities. We need to make those decisions based on more than our immediate challenges. We need to make them with the brightest possible future in mind.

And while it might seem the wrong time to make plans, we sell ourselves short by thinking that we can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. There is no reason why not and every reason for taking stock of current assumptions and practices and looking as far ahead as possible. We need to do more than weather a short-term economic storm.

As you work through this volume of Insight, please keep a few thoughts in mind. One is that the twentieth century is gone, and it won’t be back. Another is that this region has strengths and assets that can’t be replicated anywhere else. And the third is that if we don’t shape our future, others – events, people – will shape it for us.

So let’s work together to chart a course toward a world class level of opportunity and prosperity. The people of our region deserve nothing less.

CONTENTS
  • Up Front
  • Why Being World Class Matters
  • Olympic Lessons
  • Is Greater Philadelphia World Class?
  • GPS to Success: When Roadmaps aren't Enough
  • Further Reading