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Top Phila civic leaders are in Atlanta hoping to bring back new ideas

September 25, 2008

Alan Tu, WHHY/ It's Our City


A three-day meeting is underway in Atlanta, GA where many of this region’s top civic leaders are hoping to learn how to duplicate the southern city’s successes and avoid its failures. The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia meeting began yesterday with an introduction to what’s been called the “Atlanta Way.” According it the summit blog, Atlanta panelists described it as a business-driven civic process in which government tends not to lead, but to follow.


Milton James Little, Jr., President and CEO of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta told Philadelphia leaders that “There’s an expectation, an assumption that leaders in any field should be putting some of their energy and interest into boosting the city as a whole. “Every CEO is expected to be a part of some civic initiative.”


Philadelphia has had similar success with this form of civic engagement. Think Penn Praxis’ campaign to get people to re-envision a well planned Delaware River Waterfront. They were able to develop a clear plan of how future development should look. It was so successful that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter adopted it and used it as the basis for calling for a design review of two planned casinos. That, in part, led to one of the casinos to agreeing to move to a new location.


Today, PEL delegates will hear from Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who is a native of Philadelphia and a Penn grad.


FYI: Philadelphia Mayor Nutter was scheduled to attend the Atlanta summit but we’re told he has cancelled due to the death of Philadelphia Police officer Patrick McDonald.


Full disclosure here. WHYY’s President William Marrazzo, Co-Chairs the Economy League’s Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange program.