Friday, November 30, 2012

A New Way To Plan Your Career

Here's an interesting take on career planning from the Harvard Business Review. The underlying theme is, of course, you cannot plan your career like your father planned his career.

It's not news, but the fact is, few people find that job or company and stick with it long enough to be rewarded with a gold watch. Companies and positions will come and go for most people in today's job market. Simple enough, but how?

The details are nuanced, of course, but come down to two main points. First, gain transferrable knowledge.

It's one thing to know how to plug numbers into a company's proprietary software, but it's more valuable to understand how the results are attained and, even more importantly, to be able to interpret results.

Second, grow your network. Now, this sounds obvious and even in the "old days" networking was a part of the deal. The landscape has changed, though, and changed drastically. I won't try to paraphrase blogger Robert C. Pozen's take on this, just suffice to say you have to work at it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Election Didn't Demystify Obamacare

Perhaps because I am, at heart, an optimist, I expected that President Obama's re-election would eliminate a lot of the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act. So we turned writer Michael Jacobs loose on the subject for this week's cover story, asking him to give us all the details.

He came back with a great package of stories, unfortunately, they didn't include any real answers. It wasn't his fault, of course. It turns out that even though it's practically certain that Obamacare will be implemented, we still don't know exactly what that means. So amidst all the panic over the fiscal cliff, at some point someone has to sort out the details.

The wheels of change grind slowly, especially when Washington is involved.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful For Being Out A Day Early

Well folks, our latest edition has been posted online, a day early so we can all do our Thanksgiving preparations like everyone else.

This issue includes a very timely look at the retail outlook for this year. We also have to columns on the state's liquor monopoly and guidance on using freemiums to build your business. Lots of other good stuff, so enjoy.

We'll be back next week with a full slate of good stuff (and a stomach full of turkey)!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Last Friday Before Black Friday

We're still a week out from the official start of the holiday shopping season, but retailers are already in high gear. The commercials are relentless and many seem to be going the extra mile to convince shoppers to spend money with them on Black Friday.

This will be the longest holiday shopping season ever, as Thanksgiving is on the earliest date it can fall on the calendar. That should be good news for retailers, especially since we should also see some increased economic activity in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

On the downside, just heard a long-range winter forecast that says it's going to be cold - really, really cold - the first two weeks of December. That could put a chill on the holiday spending spree.

We'll see how the numbers shake out.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finally, A Break From Politics

Well, mostly.

This week's edition is out and our cover story takes a look at the changing supermarket business in our region. The biggest chains dominate of course, but it's amazing that two high-end chains with a very small physical footprint easily crack the top 10 in terms of sales. Definitely a dynamic market.

Pleased to say that Brian Farnham, the founding editor-in-chief of Patch [AOL's hyperlocal news experiment with more than three dozen sites in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs], shares some wisdom on how being a leader means tackling tasks you don't like and how gummy bears can get you through it. Good stuff.

Lots of other good reading, of course, and we're looking at some really intriguing content to close out the year and some exciting ideas for early 2013. Stick with us, folks. It's only going to get more interesting.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

As Sandy, Election, Nor'easter Fade Away

Hurricane Sandy, the election and the nor'easter all slammed our lives in various ways over the past few weeks and each left a mess in its wake.

Our latest edition (which can be found online right here) takes a quick look at some fallout in three key elections (president, Pa.'s U.S. Senate seat and the 8th congressional district) and sets the table for a lot of discussion to come. A few things kind of jump out.

1) Despite Mitt Romney's late showing here and despite all the GOP rhetoric to the contrary, it seems our state was never really in play. It went blue and it went blue fast. Philadelphia and most of the surrounding counties went to the president and it now appears that the Romney campaign was throwing a Hail Mary rather than capitalizing on any real momentum.

2) History will not show that Sen. Bob Casey was threatened because the final results are a thrashing for his opponent. But Tom Smith's well-funded campaign clearly had Sen. Casey's attention; the Casey campaign went from dismissive to annoyed to concerned to engaged in pretty short order. That said, Sen. Casey won handily, which makes you wonder - if a guy like Mr. Smith (no relation, by the way) can make it a close race with a huge mountain of cash, who can? Or, more simply, can anyone?

3) The race for the 8th district was listed on numerous websites as one of the nation's most hotly contested. But both parties eventually pulled out the big money and Mike Fitzpatrick rolled to re-election. Given the trends and cycles, he's likely safe for four years as his mid-term election should be a walk in the park.

So lots of politics to chew on. But if you're looking for something different, take a moment to check out this week's Q&A with Jill Weber, a charming and fascinating archaeologist who happes to own two cool spots on South Street - Jet Wine Bar and Rex 1516 restaurant. Really cool lady.

It's been an interesting week and the year will not end with a whimper, that's for sure.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Only Two Things Left To Do

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have spent a fortune - literally - on the race for the White House. Races down the ticket have likewise consumed huge amounts of time and money. After all that, it comes down to two things.

1. Voting

2. Waiting

So make sure you take care of the first part. As for the second, hang in there. And make sure you pick up this week's Region's Business for some perspective starting Thursday.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Out Of The Darkness, Into Confusion

Power is being restored across the region, but not all signals are clear. There's still an election scheduled for tomorrow, but it doesn't seem like everyone is one the same page.

Listen, it's perfectly understandable for there to be quibbling over poll results and expectations, but in the last few days, people from both Barack Obama's camp and Mitt Romney's camp have all but said that their candidate is not only going to win, but win big. Meanwhile, most neutral observers (as neutral as can be, at least) see the whole thing as a dead heat.

How can there be such crazy discrepancies? Worse yet, the growing concern is that there will not be a clear winner tomorrow night. Keep the coffee brewing, it's going to be a long one.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunkering Down With Sandy

The warnings are over and Sandy is about to arrive. The city and most surrounding municipalities wisely shut everything down well in advance of the storm and now all we can do is sit and wait.

I happened to be driving across the state yesterday and counted more than 100 utility trucks making their way east - from Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois and other points west. Sadly, they likely will not be enough to keep millions from being without power for extended periods.

We won't know the business impact, of course, for quite some time. But the pricetag will be in the millions of dollars for sure.

The worst should happen overnight, so until then, hunker down and be safe.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Scary-Good Issue

Our latest edition is on newsstands with some worthwhile distractions from the high-pitched noise of the election season. A great look at why Halloween is almost a recession-proof "industry" these days, in addition to some fail-safe time management guidance and a look at how Philadelphia plans on collecting a lot of delinquent taxes.

So check it out and, by all means, drop me a line to let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Obligatory Debate Post

Last night's final presidential debate signalled the beginning of the stretch run for this year's contest and not a moment too soon.

Campaign fatigue has set in and the seemingly endless stream of ads and news reports are all starting to blur together. About the only thing we know for sure is that it's going to be close on Election Night. For now, we can all hunker down and watching the flurry of conflicting polls. And if you think you've seen a lot of polls, just wait. They pollsters are just getting started.

A recent sampling:

So hang in there. The ride is going to get a lot more bumpy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Must-See TV? That's Debatable

At long last, tonight is the final presidential debate and while this does not mark the end of the seemingly interminable campaign, it is an important milestone.

No, not for the impact it might have on the race - odds are that will be minimal, but instead, it marks the time where in a horse race, the announcer would yell "do-o-o-o-o-o-wn the stretch!"

And not a moment too soon.

The back and forth of this race has been exhausting. At the outset, the GOP thought it merely had to show up to win. A protracted primary season deflated party enthusiasm and fractured the base, allowing President Obama to create what looked like a commanding lead.

With the Democrats on autopilot, the Republicans were poised to chip away at the lead. Instead, Mitt Romney stumbled and bumbled his way through the summer and by the time we got to September, the unthinkable - President Obama winning a second term - not only looked likely, it looked like it might happen in a landslide.

The GOP finally got down to business and nibbled away at the lead in the polls and, of course, Mr. Romney pounded the president in the first debate and, suddenly, it was a race.

But the fatigue factor is in full effect now and keeping voters interested may be the biggest challenge. Polls indicate that there really aren't many undecided voters out there, which means this election will likely be determined not by which candidate has the strongest platform, but which party has a better get-out-the-vote strategy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Our New Investor, Issue

No surprise, but we're pretty excited about our latest issue, anchored by a great feature about how savvy investors are making a bet on the long-term profitability of newspapers. But the news of our latest investor seems to have attracted even more attention.

That's the link to the article on Raymond Perelman's investment in our company, but we also have a more in-depth piece on our site. We're excited to have Mr. Perelman be a part of what we're creating. Take a look through this week's edition and see some of what we're up to.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teamsters Authorize Strike at Philly Newspapers

We were expecting a lot more buzz about this, but very quietly this morning - like, 3 a.m. this morning - posted a two-paragraph blurb stating that the Teamsters had authorized a strike against the company that owns The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and These are the content producers or ad folks. The story states that this group includes "delivery drivers, clerks, dispatchers, security guards, and building services personnel."

But the other groups are also bound to have something to say, because management has made it pretty clear they are expecting everyone to sacrifice in order to get the company to profitability and the unions have, at least publicly, shown no appetite for that.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sadly, End of an Era

Right up front, I must admit I was never a huge Arlen Specter fan. I found the Single Bullet Theory implausible and his overall public persona a bit too cartoonish. But as his years in the U.S. Senate continued to pass, I began to appreciate him. And not because of who he was, but because of who he wasn't.

As Sen. Specter's tenure grew, the country's political environment became more polarized and, eventually, toxically divisive. That made him stand out more and more. Because Sen. Specter didn't change. He was a moderate. And not a moderate for moderation's sake. That was simply the way he was.

In a challenging era that would seem to demand level-headed practicality, you would think someone like Arlen Specter would be most valuable. Instead, he was kicked to the curb as extremists controlled public discourse over the issues of the day. And now, he's gone forever.

It would be easy to say he will be missed. The sad fact is, he was missed before he was gone.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Obligatory Post About VP Debate

The Twittersphere was flooded with the #VPdebate hashtag last night and this morning. Not surprisingly, both sides were claiming victory - the Dems saying Vice President Joe Biden took Congressman Paul Ryan to school while the GOP said Ryan held his own against a seasoned veteran.

While the initial presidential debate literally changed the game, it's really hard to generate any enthusiasm for VP event. For all the hand-wringing about selecting the right running mate and what they might do to boost the ticket, fact is, they are almost always an afterthought. I mean if George H.W. Bush can win with Dan Quayle on the ticket, it's clear that the only something as dramatic as Thomas Eagleton's revelation could cause a ripple in the election cycle.

So while this this give TV's talking heads plenty to chew on for the next few days, it will be forgotten as soon as prep begins for the second Romney-Obama debate.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Latest Issue: State Pension Mess, Execute Like a CEO, Buy Your Own Church

How's that strike you for a nice mix? Lots of information on the immense amount of red ink swirling around the two state pension funds. Painful as it will be, looks like the state legislature is going to try to tackle the problem.

Productivity expert Neen James gives us a few easy tips to help be a better, more effective leader. Then there's the little issue of dozens of Catholic churches and schools hitting the real estate market.

Forget the summaries, just dig in and see for yourself!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

As We Predicated, It's a Race in Pennsylvania

The editorial for our October 4 edition had a headline that flew in the face of the political pundits: Don't Buy Fuzzy Poll Math, Pennsylvania a Swingin' Place to Be.

This, after most all polls showed the state solidly in the Obama column and off the battleground state list.

Well folks, we were simply ahead of our time, or so says a poll commissioned by the non-profit group Let Freedom Ring, Inc. and published exclusively by the good folks at PoliticsPA. It shows the presidential race within the margin of error and even incumbent Senator Bob Casey's race, also once thought to be a blowout, in the same territory.

In both instances, the Dem holds the lead, but it's a paper-thin advantage.

Bottom line folks, plan on brewin' up a strong pot of coffee election night. It's going to be a long one.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nutter: Romney Told 'Lie After Lie'

We reported on Michael Nutter eyeing up a move to Washington should President Obama win next month and he certainly played the part on Sunday.

On CNN's State of the Union, he slammed Mitt Romney, including this frontal assault:

“So, if you just lay out lie after lie after lie about your own plan, as well as what the president has been talking about, of course you can look good,” he said.

Expect the rhetoric to continue to heat up as most polls show the race tightening nationwide.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Maybe Pennsylvania Is Ready To Swing

A lot of pundits colored in Pennsylvania with a permanent blue marker for the upcoming presidential election, but with Mitt Romney's strong debate performance, maybe that was premature. We look at Pennsylvania's presidential politics in this week's print edition. Another highlight, a look at the crazy 8th congressional district, which is once again up for grabs. Can't like, the illustration (above) is one of my favorites.

Lots more to enjoy - a look at Philly's climate for startup companies with First Round Capital's move into the city. Also a look at the economic impact of Marcellus Shale; while much of the state wrestles with the environmental impact, people here are saving money.

We also have an interesting Q&A with the principal of a city charter school and we had a lot of fun with By The Numbers, where you'll find the one and only Brian Dawkins.

Great issue and some heavy stuff on the way for next week. Strap in, folks, things are really getting interesting.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tonight's Debate Playbook

We've discussed the fact that presidential debates rarely, if ever, have a major impact on election results, but we'll be treated to the first installment of the 2012 edition tonight.

While political pundits are wringing there hands in anticipation, the expectations of the general public should be where they are for everything involving our federal government - low.

Tonight's playbooks are simple. President Obama will play defense, bobbing and weaving. He doesn't need to win, he simply needs to stay away from any blatant mistakes. As the underdog, Mitt Romney must be the aggressor, attempting to land a decisive blow that he hopes will create some electoral momentum.

What's the best the viewing audience can hope for? Two things. First, that one, memorable moment, whether it's Lloyd Bensten's zinger ("You're no Jack Kennedy"), Gerald Ford stumbling through a question about Soviet domination or The Gipper smiling and saying, "there you go again." Second, enough material for Saturday Night Live to write a funny script. After all, the debates have become, above all, a television event.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Obligatory Voter ID Post

Sanity has prevailed and the state's rush to implement a Voter ID law has been put on hold. There's nothing wrong with requiring a picture ID to vote, but ramming it through just ahead of a presidential election looks bad, even if the intentions are good.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Can These Events Change the Election? That's Debatable

Fall is underway and in a presidential election year, that means the next season is debate season.

On the upside, this will give the 24-hour cable news stations a different angle to discuss on their endless stream of talking head shows. Instead of the semantics of a stump speech or the latest one-tenth of a percentage point change in a poll of likely Montana swing voters, they can obsess and convulse over the debates.

In the end, though, that's really all the debates are good for - a televised diversion.

The Democrats are approaching them in a frenzy, seeing an opportunity to seal a November victory. On the other hand, the Republicans are frothing at their collective mouths, ready to vault Mitt Romney into the lead, building the momentum needed to capture the White House.

Before investing too much time watching the debates or listening to, watching or reading too much analysis of the debates, read this smart commentary by Franklin & Marshall political observers G. Terry Madonna & Michael L.Young. Then find yourself a good movie to watch or a book to read and wait for the merciful end to one of the most painful presidential election seasons ever.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Suddenly, Casey Finds Himself in a Race

Funny how quickly things change, especially in politics.

Just a few weeks ago, it seemed Sen. Robert Casey was on his way to a landslide re-election bid against Tom Smith.

But this week, the political nerds at The Washington Post have taken Pennsylvania from "solid Democratic" to "leaning Democratic" and that means the moment is on Smith's side.

Mr. Smith is outspending Mr. Casey on the state's airwaves and that's likely to ratchet up in the next few weeks. But before you go out and bet the underdog, consider this context from the aforementioned Post:

To be clear: Casey is still the clear frontrunner here. The Casey name is well known (and liked) in Pennsylvania, and the senator has plenty of money to spend. And with Obama looking strong in the state, Smith would likely have to run 10 points (if not more) ahead of Romney to win. That’s no small feat.
Still, the race has gone from afterthought to intriguing.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Raise a Glass to Our Latest Issue

This week's issue hits newsstands today and it worth a toast because we're focusing on the state's wine industry. Some may scoff at Pennsylvania wines, but as our story illustrates, there's a lot of money in those grapes, especially in the Delaware Valley where the industry has become a vital - and growing - part of the economy.

Other highlights:

  • The city continues to distance itself from the term "business privilege."
  • Lessons from a successful startup in the competitive IT services sector.
  • Insight on the choice between more social media marketing and more SEO for your business.
  • Why you should care about Comcast's Internet Essentials program aimed at providing low-cost Internet access and computers to low income families.
  • More, actually much more, within the printed pages, so I hope you'll take the time to read through at your leisure. Enjoy and, as always, drop me an e-mail with questions, comments, rants and raves.

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    Philadelphia's Artful Economy

    We touched on it in our first issue and dove deeper into the idea in our second issue and now, Stephan Salisbury of The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a shot at sizing up the economic impact of the arts scene in our area.

    You should be hearing more about this in the coming months, since the smart folks at the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation put together a great event last week, putting 12 of the area's top arts-related organizations in front of the media. The "speed reporting" event allowed each group to give a 30,000-foot view on what's newsworthy in their organization and each one had several great things to share. That should translate into a good number of stories about events and initiatives, but the real story here, the underpinning, is that there's a lot of activity that's have a direct impact on the region's bottom line.

    But the subtle message from the event is that there is plenty of room to grow. That will deserve attention as we move forward.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    This Week's Issue: A Safe Bet

    The 20 September edition of Region's Business is out. You can find a PDF version online right here.

    Writer Michael Jacobs - an alum of AOL's hyperlocal news website experiment, Patch, took a deep dive into Pennsylvania's gaming industry. Specifically, he took a look at the economic impact in the Philadelphia area. Find out why slot machines are credited with not only saving Pennsylvania's horse racing industry, but allowing to thrive to the point where it is considered one of the top spots in the nation.

    We also have our first installment of Where Are They Now? Karen Fratti, who wrote about choosing New York City over Philadelphia in our initial issue, caught up with five people who were once regulars in the region's news. Although you don't hear about Jim Greenwood, Lynne Yeakel, Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker and Faith Whittlesey very often, each one of them is quite active. Take a moment to catch up with them.

    This week's Q&A was a lot of fun. Sarah Lockard, the ePublisher of, is about to embark on the Fall edition of her twice-yearly Main Line Restaurant Week. It's become the largest dining event in the region and she has a great story to share.

    Some great commentary this week. Bill Gunderson offers guidance on how to get to the truth behind the headlines. Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, provides strategies for job growth in Philadelphia. Andrejs Penikis, Social Media Manager for Stream Companies, explains what businesses can learn about social media marketing from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Finally, political columnist Charlie Gerow explains why, despite polls, Romney has an advantage.

    That's just a glimpse of what's in store, so you can see that there is a lot of great stuff packed in there. So take some time to read and enjoy. If you're so inclined, drop an e-mail and let us know what you think.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Taking a Gamble on Gamblng

    We're putting the finishing touches on this week's print edition and the cover story focuses on the gaming industry in Pennsylvania, specifically the Philly area, of course. Take the time to read the excellent work by writer Michael Jacobs, part of which is an explanation on how slot machines not only saved the state's thoroughbred horse racing industry, but allowed it to take a place among the elite regions in the country.

    Much more in store, of course. Very excited to say that Sarah Lockard, the ePublisher of, is our Q&A subject, focusing on Main Line Restaurant Week, which kicks off in the next few days. If you haven't met Sarah before, you'll be glad you did. You'll find some familiar names in this week's edition, some you may not have thought about for some time.

    We'll post the PDF version later tomorrow morning and hope to hear our feedback.

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Latest Print Edition Focuses on Gov. Corbett, Dodd-Frank

    Our latest issue is available and, as has been the case each week, there's plenty to enjoy. The cover story focuses on Gov. Tom Corbett, who has seen some pretty unpleasant poll numbers recently. That's prompted some to speculate that the Democrats may be able to unseat him in 2014; without offering a "spoiler," let's just say that there are several Democrats on the radar, but they all might be well-served to ride it out until 2018.

    Great piece on the Dodd-Frank bill, specifically its impact on small community banks. While the Fed insists that most of the bill's ramifications will bypass such institutions, we got quite a different story from local bank executives.

    Great column by the smart & talented Gina Rubel, who runs a dynamic PR & marketing firm in Doylestown. Great ideas for C-level executives.

    Lots of little things that I always enjoy - and hope you do, too - including our Q&A with the GM of the popular Del Frisco's restaurant, the By The Numbers pages which I always hope sparks some conversation and lots more. Dive in and tell us what you think!

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Steps Toward Improved Infrastructure

    We've seen enough construction signs to believe that orange is the state's official color. But all the construction leads to something, or at least we hope so.

    The Route 202 Parkway, an idea spawned the year that Lyndon B. Johnson and Barry Goldwater waged battle for the White House, is finally near completion. Early this month, towns along the new expressway held an open house of sorts, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to check out PennDOT's handiwork. The reviews are mixed, of course, since the project had its share of proponents and detractors. The original plan, though, showed a lot of vision; back in the 1960s, the Route 202 corridor was not the dense suburban sprawl of today.

    Despite its opponents, despite its quaint 40 mph speed limit, the parkway will be a welcome reprieve for suburban commuters and within months, many will wonder how they ever managed without it.

    On the other side of the suburbs, we await the long-touted I-95 connector to the Pennsylvania turnpike. Prerequisite projects are completed or underway, but the real "guts" of the project aren't slated until next year and it won't be completed until 2017. Bucks County commissioner Robert Loughery wrote a column for our first issue touting the connector as vital to the area's economic growth.

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Check out our latest, high-flying issue

    Still groggy from a three-day weekend, we're excited to present our third issue. Our cover story focuses on Philadelphia International Airport, one of the biggest economic drivers in the region. It's amazing how much money is being poured into PHL in the past 10 years.

    We also have a great Ideas column from an executive image consultant. The workplace dynamics are changing, but it's still important to present a strong executive image. He's got the tips to point you in the right direction.

    You'll also find a great story about commercial real estate in the suburbs. It seems that lost in all the buzz about Center City's resurgence, several suburbs are seeing impressive occupancy rates.

    Check it out and let us know what you think!

    Friday, August 31, 2012

    No Price Tag For Weekend Festivites

    It's hard to argue with Mayor Michael Nutter's assertion that this weekend's big music festival featuring Jay-Z and Pearl Jam will raise Philadelphia's profile. These are big names that will draw a massive audience and create a buzz across the Twittersphere and blogosphere.

    And, sure, he is probably correct when he says "We believe that we have the capacity, the infrastructure and the knowledge to be able to do this, and do it well."

    However, there are a lot of vague references (the concert will provide "short-, medium- and long-term benefits.") but not a lot of details. When it comes to the expense to the city, we're told that officials have a general idea and that festival organizers will bear part of the burden. Real numbers won't be available until later in September.

    Why aren't more specifics available and why isn't Mr. Nutter being held accountable for providing those details? This could be a great plus for Philadelphia, but it could end up being a big financial loss, too.

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    Our Aug. 30 Edition Is Out

    After the rush of getting our first print edition out last week, I was worried about an emotional let down for this week's edition.

    There was no such letdown and this week's edition looks really strong.

    There are two exceptional pieces to dig into, the second half of our "Visions Of A World-class Philadelphia" series and a look at Penn State attempting to rehab its image. Both feature great insight.

    Useful column for C-level executives by social media strategist Dave McGurgan, a glimpse at one of the most innovative charities in the region and an inside look at a condo with a view of Washington Square. We also look at the governor's slipping poll numbers, Philadelphia's shrinking middle class and some significant business deals. All in a week's work.

    Hope you enjoy!

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    A Step Toward Better Schools, Private Schools ... or Both?

    The Philadelphia Schools Partnership Thursday announced that it has raised almost $52 million, putting the two-year-old nonprofit more than halfway to its goal of $100 million.

    Mayor Michael Nutter applauded the milestone and the foundation's website includes this:

    “The Maguire Foundation has been supporting education reform in a number of ways over the years, but broad-scale improvement in the city has been elusive,” said James J. Maguire, founder of Philadelphia Insurance Cos. and The Maguire Foundation, and a board member of PSP. “We have elected to make this big investment in the Great Schools Fund because we see a real opportunity, through collective action, to achieve citywide improvement.”
    Of course, not everyone is cheering.

    Over at The City Paper they've connected a bunch of dots and come to this conclusion: "What readers might not glean from press reports is that PSP is an integral part of a broad and well-funded campaign to privatize public education in Philadelphia."

    Check out their site for the details.

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    Our First Print Edition Is Available

    Until today, Region's Business has existed only as a Web presence, and a modest one at that. That's changed.

    The first edition of our weekly news magazine we'll be in subscribers' hands and in select single-copy outlets today. To say we're excited would be a massive understatement.

    The headline for our cover story says it all: Visions Of A World-Class Philadelphia. We wanted to assess the region's viability as a world-class spot. Writer Elissa Vallano interviewed a slew of key people - Ed Rendell, police commissioner Ramsey, Meryl Levitz, SEPTA's Joe Casey and more - for the first of two parts and the mood was uniform. Across the board, these leaders recognize the significant challenges (crime, struggling schools, labor issues), but believe the Philadelphia region is well-situated to ascend to the nation's elite.

    There's more - lots more, too. We have a great look at the economic impact of the 2013 U.S. Open coming to the Merion Golf Club. The numbers are staggering, especially the amount of rent houses along the course will be able to demand the week of the tournament.

    LinkedIn expert Donna Serdula shows executives how to ignoring that platform could hurt their image and their brand.

    In politics, we dive into the stories of Montgomery County rising star Mike Gerber suddenly and quietly leaving Harrisburg at an inopportune time and the latest chapter in the sad, sad story of Bill DeWeese, whose bid to run for re-election while in prison is over.

    There's more, lots more, in our first edition. Want a complimentary copy? Just drop an e-mail and we'll send one out. And stay tuned for next week's edition, which will include the second half of our "Visions Of A World-Class Philadelphia" and, if the early drafts are any indication, a wealth of other must-read material.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Why Can't the National Constitution Center Keep a CEO?

    The Philadelphia Business Journal reported that National Constitution Center CEO David Eisner is resigning after three years on the job. That's news, of course, but here's the line that really sticks out (emphasis mine):

    Eisner is the center’s third CEO since it opened at a cost of $137 million in July 2003...
    Wouldn't one think that if you're passion lies in running an exhibit or museum focusing on history that being CEO of the National Constitution Center would be a destination position, not a transition position? Shouldn't we expect to attract a high profile star to this spot and, likewise, expect them to make this a place to make their name?

    Bottom line is, that's a lot of turnover.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Compared to Chicago, Philly Looking Calm

    Philadelphia is on track to register the most homicides since the 262 in a bloody 2007, including Saturday's tragic shooting death of an off-duty city police officer. Stories of other violent crimes seem to lead evening newscasts on a regular basis.

    Look west, though, for a little perspective. Over the weekend in Chicago - that's just over the weekend as in Friday night to Sunday - six people were killed and 19 were wounded in shootings in the city.

    A lot of cities, including Philadelphia, are seeing population growth for the first time in decades. Violence like this, however, can only serve to stem the tide. When looking for solutions, the typical responses involve gun control or more spending on police resources, but are either a real option in today's political climate?

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Mixed Messages on Entrepreneurs & VC

    Two stories, two messages yesterday. Still trying to find where they intersect.

    On one hand, we have a piece from the Philadelphia Business Journal where Peter Key writes about a shakeup at Novotorium, a Bucks County business incubator.

    The story states that Novotorium co-founder and general manager Mike Krupit will move on and the operation "will concentrate on developing companies in the wellness and healthy-lifestyle space, as well as companies that complement those types of businesses."

    Big deal? Probably not, but there's a trouble quote from Krupit. Read the story to see the whole thing (it's worth the click), but the first line sets it up: "“The Philadelphia region is a pretty challenging startup environment."

    Challenging is not the adjective we want attached to the Philadelphia startup community.

    But take heart, someone seems to think that Krupit may not have an accurate picture. Because over at, Joseph N. DiStefano posted a piece announcing a venture capital firm is moving from the suburbs into the city.

    We're not talking nickels and dimes, either. The piece points out that First Round Capital is "the third-busiest venture-capital firm in the United States." And it's moving from the Main Line to 4040 Locust St., according to the article.

    So is the glass half-empty or half-full? Seems like the latter, but only time will tell.

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Why the Abington-Holy Redeemer Merger Failed

    You'd think the folks behind a merger that was a year in the making would have taken all issues into account. It appears that wasn't the case in the failed attempt to merge Holy Redeemer and Abington hospitals.

    In great detail, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Michael Vitez dissects the plan and where it went wrong. The analysis by Mr. Vitez zeroes in on several issues that led to the deal's collapse, but perhaps most interesting is the lack of involvement by the medical staff and the community.

    Most business mergers are done at the highest levels of the corporate structure. Managers and often mid-level executives aren't really a part of the process. Why would it be different in the case of two hospitals?

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    City's Resurging, But Will Unions Help?

    Regular readers of certainly noticed the irony.

    Tuesday, columnist Daniel Rubin posted an encouraging piece where Mayor Michael Nutter touted the site of numerous construction projects across the city.

    The story centered on "30 major construction projects taking place now that represent more than $2.2 billion of investments in Philadelphia," as Mr. Rubin wrote. However, he touched on the speed bump on Philadelphia's race to recovery.

    That'd be the city's infamous unions. More from Mr. Rubin's piece:

    Kevin Gillen of Econsult Corp., an economic-research firm in town, figures that the $63 an hour that union workers here make, on average, is twice as much as their brethren get in Washington, and just $10 an hour less than the rate in New York.
    He touched on the Pestronk brother project at 12th and Wood, something that fellow Inquirer columnist Inga Saffron touched on this morning. Ms. Saffron detailed a rather elaborate ruse employed by the Pestronks to sneak a crane onto their job site where they are using a mix of union and - gasp! - non-union workers.

    If the city - and the region - are to sustain this momentum, there needs to be a strong truce with the labor unions. All of the construction and investment is encouraging, but long-term economic growth will only come with stability between developers and labor.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    New Doctors Must Think Bottom Line

    A thoughtful column by The Inquirer's Monica Yant Kinney focused on money as she checked out the Jefferson Medical College's "whitecoating" ceremony, where college graduates transform into doctors-in-training.

    Years ago, we knew these people were on their way to big money. Now that's not such a sure thing. Ms. Kinney focused on one doctor-to-be who figured he'd have more than a quarter-million dollars in loans by the time he finished.

    While big money isn't a sure thing, one thing is - there will be a growing demand for doctors. In addition to The Affordable Care Act increasing the number of insured Americans, it appears that at the same time, a lot of doctors are leaving the medical practice. That leaves some interesting math, doesn't it?

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Olympic Envy

    There has been plenty written about the impact of hosting the Olympics, including a rather scathing analysis on The Atlantic Cities Web site in late July. The jury is still out on how London will make out in its third effort of hosting the games, but on an emotional level, it's hard not to be jealous.

    Watching all of the TV coverage, seeing London mentioned in so many tweets and Facebook status updates, it's hard to not wish that we could swap out Philadelphia for London and imagine that instead of London's once-depressed East End being revitalized, acres of vacant buildings across Philadelphia had been razed and replaced with glimmering new Olympic venues.

    Gene Marks seems to think Philly is up to the task, writing on The Philly Post that, in a nutshell, if Atlanta can pull it off, as it did in 1996, than so can Philly. And also in late July, the Philly Shark took a pragmatic look at the possibility and it seems that 2024 would be the earliest Philly could get a bid and the work would have to start now.

    If we want to be a world-class city, it's time to start thinking - and dreaming - big. And dreams don't get much bigger than Olympic dreams.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Mayor Nutter: A Turkey Shorti Kind of Guy

    Philadelphia Magazine has a nice Q & A of Mayor Michael Nutter. Nothing deep or controversial, just some guy-next-door type of things like how he likes his eggs (sunny-side up with turkey bacon) and what he considers the most beautiful spot in Philadelphia (Belmont Plateau).

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Indiana University President Likely to be Named to Top Spot at Temple

    The Inquirer's Susan Snyder reports today that Indiana University president Neil D. Theobald will take over the top spot at Temple University in January. Multiple sources indicate he is the only finalist for the job and university trustees will vote on his hiring Tuesday. The university's Web site offers plenty of information on Dr. Theobald, including an extensive bio and a schedule of times when Temple staff and students can meet him. The university Web site also quotes him as saying: "If selected as Temple's next president, my immediate goal will be to understand what the trustees, faculty, students, staff and community leaders see as Temple's most pressing issues and what they believe the highest priorities should be for early presidential attention."

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Campaign limits remain in Philadelphia

    Looks like Super PACs won't be a part of Philadelphia's next mayoral race, as WHYY's Dave Davies reported that a judge upheld campaign contribution limits.

    It was a back-door type of effort, as U.S Rep. Bob Brady wanted to circumvent the limits, not to run an active campaign, but instead to retire a debt he ran up during the 2007 Democratic primary race.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    More alleged corruption in Philadelphia

    Federal prosecutors say a former court worker more than $400,000 in 11 years according to a story in the Daily News. The story says that a 47-year-old Levittown man was fired in 2010, but not before "buying TVs, parking passes and other big-ticket items with court-issued credit cards and reselling them to friends."

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    Waiting for the dust to settle in (Not-So-) Happy Valley

    The NCAA has handed down its version of justice to the Penn State football program before the controversy of the removal of a statue honoring Joe Paterno was removed from the stadium grounds.

    The Twittersphere is buzzing with all sorts of pro and anti NCAA statements, but it's all too soon. Knee-jerk reactions aren't helpful in most situations, least of all this one. The smart move is to absorb everything that's happened in the past 48-hours and let it sink in. There are a lot of ramifications to be considered, many that most of us haven't even thought of quite yet.

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    Nation watching two House races here

    The National Journal ranked the 75 House races worth watching across the nation and two congressmen in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs are on the radar.

    Bucks County's Mike Fitzpatrick's race came in at #39 and Jim Gerlach's race came in at #68.

    WHYY's Newsworks caught up with Scott Bland, the editor of National Journal's House Race Hotline:

    "He has a challenger -- Kathy Boockvar -- who's been tapped by the Democratic Campaign Committee in Washington as one of its premiere candidates," [National Journal editor Scott] Bland said. "Fitzpatrick has done a fairly good job voting his district in Congress -- he's split off from the Republican majority more often than most."
    In the National Journal article, Mr. Bland writes: "Republican state legislators successfully closed off nearly every possible Democratic pickup opportunity with the Keystone State's new congressional map, but they couldn’t offer Fitzpatrick much protection."

    As for Mr. Gerlach, Mr. Bland seems to think that redistricting will help. Take a look at Gerlach's district and it is clear that a lot of work went in to crafting this one.

    Maybe we didn't really avert another Great Depression

    A rain Friday isn't the only reason for a gloomy mood. Buried beneath the shocking and horrific news about the movie theater shooting in Colorado are pieces of economic news that point to another coming economic meltdown.

    First, citing a series of numbers including retail sales and jobless claims, analysts at Comstock Partners said, essentially, we're clearly headed for another recession. The evidence is pretty strong.

    Amazingly, they present a strong case without even touching on the implications of excessive drought that is withering crops across the nation's breadbasket. Sure, a poor crop will drive up food prices, but don't forget our nation's rush to embrace ethanol. That makes the drought a very sharp double-edged sword.

    The Euro Zone continues to falter with Greece, Spain and Italy leading its descent to the bottom and the seemingly one bright economic spot in the world, China, has some real estate market problems that could result in a hard landing for the once-seemingly invincible economy.

    All in all, it appears 2012 is going to close with a rather sad whimper rather than a bang.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    Hospital merger called off

    The people have spoken and the businesses listened. reported that the merger between Holy Redeemer and Abington Hospital is off. Apparently, the public outcry was too loud for the institutions.

    The partnership was sought, spokespersons said, to put both hospitals in a better position to handle the federal healthcare overhaul. So this may not be the end of the story. It's probably a safe bet that discussions about a partnership or merger or alliance will begin once the impact of the legislation becomes clearer.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Some things don't mix, but politics and business certainly do

    Of course politics and business mix. They both revolve around money and influence, so they have a lot in common.

    But that intersection, that place where they blur to the point where one becomes indiscernable from the other, that's a place where a lot of interesting stories exist. And that's why I'm excited about Region's Business in Philadelphia.

    There are plenty of print outlets and Web sites that plow over basic business news in the Delaware Valley or serve up platters of Philly area politics. But we're aiming higher. We want to dig into politics so that you can see what's coming, what the impact is before it you feel it. We want to get past the mundane business numbers so you can see behind the scenes while having a better understanding of the bigger picture.

    It's a tall order, for sure, but there's a need for that type of information, context and analysis. When faced with a large task, a former boss once said, "How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time." So pass the tartar sauce and let's get to it.