• 2014 World Class Summit
      Frank Monkiewicz Photography
  • Steve Wray
Categorized As:
Regional Direction

A World Class Future Means Growth and Opportunity

With two major events bringing global attention to Greater Philadelphia over the next 12 months, it’s a moment of great civic pride. In the lead-up to both Pope Francis’ visit and the Democratic National Convention, we’ll be telling and retelling the story of our region's many strengths and our rebound from late 20th century decline to 21st century growth.


While these are exciting and important stories to tell, they, of course, are not the full story. Greater Philadelphia has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years driven by growth in city population and employment and the emergence of a dynamic innovation economy, but these gains have not translated into opportunities for everyone in our region. In fact, a hard truth lurks beneath top-line indicators of growth: since the recession, Greater Philadelphia has experienced the second-largest rise in income inequality among the 10 biggest US metros.


The challenges associated with growing disparities are especially pronounced in our region, where our central city and other core communities vastly underperform many suburban communities on measures of educational attainment, employment, and earnings. These disparities translate directly into disadvantage for many individuals and families and compromise the economic potential of the region as a whole. Beyond the moral imperative to reduce inequality, emerging research shows that too much of it can also slow or stall long-term economic growth. A recent study examining the economic performance of select U.S. metro areas found that those that fared better on measures of equity were more likely to withstand recessionary shocks and sustain growth for longer periods of time.


So if we’re serious about ensuring a World Class future for Greater Philadelphia, it’s critical that we prioritize regional improvement strategies that not only drive growth, but also expand opportunity.


Making real progress on this front requires a shared understanding among business and civic leaders of where we stand, what’s being done today, and how we can make an impact moving forward. So at this year’s World Class Summit (register here), we’ll be focusing on how the shared World Class agenda that we’ve built with broad input from business and civic leaders can help individuals and families advance economically while maintaining Greater Philadelphia on the path to growth.


At the Summit, we’ll take a close look at how our region stacks up against peer metros on measures of opportunity, and we’ll examine how access to opportunity differs across communities in the Philadelphia area. We’ll get national perspective from Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution, whose work is helping inform how leaders in metros across the country are grappling with the dual imperative of growth and opportunity.

We’ll also shine a light on promising strategies for driving progress within our region, with an emphasis on advancing coordinated, employer-driven workforce strategies to move people from low-wage jobs into family-sustaining careers; enhancing support for entrepreneurs in underserved minority and immigrant communities; and expanding access to transportation across the region. And, as always, we’ll highlight the work of leading organizations and initiatives that are on the front lines of progress in Greater Philadelphia.


So mark your calendars for the evening of July 16th and get your Summit tickets online. As always, in addition to providing rich and compelling insight into Greater Philadelphia’s ongoing development, the Summit is one of the year’s best opportunities to network with a diverse group of business and civic leaders helping to shape the future of our region. 


I look forward to seeing you there – and making sure that we’re telling the full story about our evolving region.