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."