Longtime Economy League Chief Joins Econsult
July 13, 2017
Natalie Kostelni, Reporter, Philadelphia Business Journal
Steve Wray, who spent 11 years as head of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and another 11 years prior to that overseeing its policy and research work, has taken the position of vice president and director at Econsult Solutions Inc., a Philadelphia-based consulting firm. It was announced in December that Wray had decided to leave the organization, which was formed nearly 100 years ago to “drive growth and opportunity” in the region. Under Wray’s tenure, the Economy League successfully recast itself as an agenda-driven organization and rolled out several novel and successful initiatives including IssuesPA, Campus Philly and Graduate! Philadelphia.
Why did you decide to leave Economy League of Greater Philadelphia? After running a nonprofit for over a decade, it was time to think about what was next. They were also thinking about doing a new strategic plan and it was the right timing. I had been there for 22 years and I thought it was time to explore my opportunities.
What do you consider some of your top accomplishments while there? Being part of the creation of Campus Philly and Graduate! Philadelphia and helping in the movement to increase Philadelphia’s educational attainment. The creation of the World Class Greater Philadelphia agenda that set the direction and focus of the Economy League and shifted it to more of an agenda-driven organization and being there for the creation of the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange programs. I’d like to think I had a small role in leveraging the research and the convening ability of the Economy League to catalyze discussions about Philadelphia.
It was 1995 when you started there. How would you describe the Philadelphia of 1995 and Philadelphia today? In 1995, we were just starting to figure out what assets we had and Ed Rendell was figuring out how to market it. We all weren’t there yet. Over the last 22 years, there has been great progress on the look and image of Center City and the city of Philadelphia is now a destination for young people. When we started Campus Philly that wasn’t the case. We now see the university and health care assets as true assets that we can build the city around. Who would have thought 22 years ago we would have gotten the pope, the NFL draft and the DNC? Philadelphia has a different image today and has a place on the world stage.
What did you want when you went looking for your next job? I decided I wanted to be in Philadelphia. That was one of the factors. At the Economy League, we did a lot of work with Econsult and I was comfortable with the team there. They knew me and I knew them. I saw a way I could complement the team with my skillsets and take some of things we have done in Philadelphia and bring them to other regions. There are opportunities to take some of the ideas, not lock-stock-and-barrel but some of them, to other regions facing similar challenges. I’ll get to roll up my sleeves a little more, which is something I look forward to.