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Is Philadelphia a Leader in Business? Yes, but there’s more for us to do.

It’s clear that Philly is on a roll. From state-of-the-art development popping up in our skyline, to not one but TWO national championships, there’s a lot for us to celebrate in the city we love.

In my short time as president and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, it’s been a privilege to meet and work alongside so many local leaders who are spearheading this drive toward excellence. It is their collective commitment and determination to help this city and our region reach its full potential that is both inspiring and essential to advance our mission to end poverty.

On Wednesday, April 4, we hosted our third installment of the Leaders Lead Speaker Series focused on the topic: Is Philadelphia a Leader in Business? Tom Trala, chief financial officer at FS Investments and a member of our regional Board of Directors, moderated a panel discussion featuring Brian Cohen, vice president and city manager at Liberty Property Trust; Apu Gupta, chief executive officer and co-founder at CURALATE; Naveen Kakarla, president and chief executive officer at Hersha Hospitality Management (HHM); and Anne Bovaird Nevins, chief strategy and communications officer at Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).

Among this group of influential individuals, they could all agree that the answer to our question is “yes” – but with the understanding that we must all work together to ensure that more of our neighbors succeed. We need ample opportunities for all of our community members to thrive and, as our panelists noted, we all have a role to play.

  • With more than 35% of Philadelphia’s children living in poverty, Anne identified the issue as “a quiet crisis.” She emphasized that a focus on education and workforce development is necessary to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable children, individuals and families.
  • Naveen noted that there’s a different level of “creativity, momentum and energy” in this city now that can be harnessed to propel us forward. He observed that the millennial population is willing to organize at a grassroots level and better our community in new and interesting ways.
  • Brian talked about “building the bench” of future leaders with a focus on diversity and inclusion and how we need to think toward the long-term benefits of these initiatives, rather than the impulse to see immediate results.
  • Apu noted that young people have a lot of choices and many are “optimizing for lifestyle” when deciding where to live. Philadelphia’s improving brand will help attract and retain talent, leading to an inspired population of young people who are ready to make a difference.

As Philadelphia continues to build on its recent successes, United Way is committed to being a leading partner in the fight to end intergenerational poverty across our region. Join us and learn more about Leadership Giving and the Leaders Lead Speaker Series.

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