Philadelphia – November 3, 2023
Philadelphia is on the cusp of selecting its 100th mayor, and local business leaders have been vocal about their expectations for the next city leader. In a recent gathering of over two dozen business executives at WHYY, several key priorities emerged that they believe should be addressed to enhance the local economy.
Among the top concerns voiced by business leaders is the pressing need for a mayor who possesses a clear vision for fostering equitable and effective economic development, someone who can build consensus, is willing to overhaul public education, and most importantly, is dedicated to enhancing public safety citywide.
Public safety is a multifaceted issue in Philadelphia, encompassing challenges such as homelessness, the opioid epidemic, petty crimes affecting the quality of life, and rampant gun violence plaguing many neighborhoods. Business leaders are advocating for a mayor who serves as a visionary leader rather than focusing solely on city operations. They emphasize the importance of highlighting the city’s strengths and growth potential, thus fostering a sense of unity and optimism.
Equitable economic development is another central concern, especially for businesses in neighborhoods that often receive fewer resources compared to downtown and university areas. Business leaders stress the importance of a long-term vision to address the city’s persistent problems, reducing its poverty rate of over 20% and ensuring economic security for all residents.
Workforce development is a priority for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, the city’s largest private employer with nearly 45,000 workers. They emphasize the need for comprehensive public education reform to advance the city’s economy. Education is recognized as the most critical social determinant of health, impacting individuals throughout their lives. A strong educational foundation is essential for success in vocational careers or higher education.
Addressing chronic homelessness and the opioid epidemic are also critical issues for business leaders. They advocate for a coordinated effort involving all providers and government agencies to effectively address behavioral health issues in the city.
In conclusion, business leaders are looking to the next mayor to address public safety, promote equitable economic development, prioritize education reform, and tackle issues such as homelessness and the opioid epidemic. These priorities are seen as essential for fostering a more prosperous and secure future for Philadelphia. The upcoming mayoral election on November 7 will play a crucial role in determining the city’s path forward.