Philly Mayor Jim Kenney urges leaders to change city’s anti-business narrative

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (Image via Flickr Commons)

By Ayana Jones

PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney is touting Philly as a pro-business city.

“Let’s please put to rest once and for all that Philly is ‘bad for business’,” he said, speaking to members of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon.

“Companies, including those who have the power and the money to be anywhere in the world, are investing in Philadelphia like never before. I can think of no better place for businesses that aim to innovate and challenge the status quo.”

Kenney called on members of the business community to help change the narrative about the city and show the world that Philadelphia is open for business. He addressed city efforts to cut down on red tape to help businesses.

Kenney says the public and private sectors should work together to foster inclusive economic growth that benefits all Philadelphia residents. He honed in on the need to increase workers’ wages.

“You have a chance right now to raise wages so your workers understand they are valued, so they can provide for their families and so they can directly contribute to growing our economy by spending more money with your businesses,” Kenney told the business leaders.

He said the city plans to launch a program that will give incentives to employers that provide jobs with family-sustaining wages and benefits like health insurance.

The mayor encouraged employers in attendance to commit to providing young people with opportunities through career panels, shadowing opportunities, internships or jobs.

Kenney highlighted reducing gun violence, addressing poverty, creating a more equitable criminal justice system, improving schools and expanding street sweeping to every city neighborhood as key priorities for his second term.

Independence Health Group CEO Daniel Hilferty, who chairs the chamber’s board, said the mayor’s priorities align with the chamber’s Neighborhood Growth Project. The initiative pushes a policy agenda focusing on four key areas including inclusive growth and good jobs; education and workforce modernization; safe and healthy neighborhoods and putting people first in City Hall.

“We must reduce not only the burdens of business, but the burdens of crime and poor health that affect people’s quality of life,” Hilferty said.

“We must see that revitalized neighborhood businesses are as important as new corporate headquarters. It is very clear that we have a shared destination and together we are on the way.

Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.