Being the business community’s biggest cheerleader is part of the gig for Philadelphia’s top elected official, and Mayor Michael Nutter fully lived up to the role last week as he paid a visit to the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
After listing his administration’s accomplishments in promoting and developing commerce, the mayor encouraged members gathered for a luncheon at the Knowlton Mansion at Rhawn and Verree to share the love and be business ambassadors for their home town.
“Let’s be more positive about Philadelphia,” he said. “Philadelphia is really a great, great place to do business.”
Nutter listed what the city has to offer companies looking for new locations, and stressed its place in international commerce.
“Philadelphia is a global city. Its economy connects all the way around the world.”
Nutter said foreign companies want to invest in Philadelphia.
Many companies are coming to the city, he said, and plenty of people visit on business.
“This is a great convention town,” he said, and stressed that the hospitality business provides plenty of jobs. “Eighty percent of our hotel workers are Philadelphia residents.”
Philadelphia has been changing. Philadelphians have been changing, he said.
“If you haven’t been in Philadelphia for the last five to 10 years, you don’t know Philadelphia,” he said. “Our diverse population is the strength of our great city.”
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The mayor told chamber members that population is growing for the first time in 60 years. Part of that is reflected in the increasing number — 49 percent — of grads of Philadelphia’s 101 colleges and universities who choose to stay in the city, he said. Philly’s growth isn’t just in people, he added. Companies here are expanding, he said, and right now, there are 50 major construction projects under way.
Yes, he said, Philadelphians have their “day to day challenges,” but he said the city has an unmatched quality of life. Philadelphia is 70 minutes from Washington or New York, he said, but has a lower cost of living.
For commerce to grow, he said, “We want to make it easier to do business in the city and with the city.” To do that, the city will be eliminating some fees in 2014.
Philadelphia International Airport is expanding its runways, and carriers are expanding their flights and destinations, the mayor said.
He praised the Commerce Department’s Office of Business Services and specifically lauded Commerce’s Northeast business service manager, Sandi King, for the hard work she does.
“I can never find Sandi because she’s actually working for you,” the mayor said as he looked in the direction of longtime chamber president Al Taubenberger.
City government is pumping money into the Northeast, Nutter said, pointing to tens of thousands of dollars going to community development corporations in Frankford and Mayfair and for Torresdale Avenue improvements.
When the mayor took some questions from chamber members, one query drifted from business to politics. Asked whether or not he will seek another elective office when his second term concludes, Nutter said, “I am so not thinking about that.”
He said he still has much to do as mayor. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.” ••