5 Ways Businesses Will Profit From Philly’s Coming Energy Boom

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Did you hear? An economic boom is quietly and slowly happening in Philadelphia.

“With little fanfare,” this report from last weekend says, “Philadelphia is undergoing a revolution powered by the U.S. energy renaissance. Renewed investment and activity in the region’s sprawling railway network and aging infrastructure is turning the City of Brotherly Love into a potential energy hub that some believe can rival Houston.”

Just this past month daily crude oil output in the U.S. topped 9 million barrels for the first time since March of 1986, and as Patrick Kerkstra wrote in this must-read Philly Mag piece: “The spoils of the Marcellus Shale gas fields will gush into the core of the city and its suburbs through broad new pipelines. Gargantuan processing facilities, built with billions of dollars of global capital, will rise like steel stalagmites along the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers. New factories — lured by the abundant low-cost energy the pipelines provide — will hire thousands of working-class residents to make plastic, steel, cement and countless consumer goods. Air pollution will increase, but so will the local GDP, as energy traders and executives fill up downtown office buildings.”

Our city happens to be in the right spot with the right infrastructure. We’re a hop and a larger skip away from the shale oil fields of Western Pennsylvania and North Dakota, respectively, and located smack in the middle of the populous and energy-hungry East Coast. There are thousands of acres of industrial space along both rivers just waiting to be built and re-built. There are huge refineries already in operation near the airport and in Marcus Hook and other refineries and holding facilities in Trainer and Hunting Park. We’ve got the right rail connections and large ports. We’ve even got Patti Labelle, and she’s a national treasure.

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The President Is Wrong on Net Neutrality: The Internet Needs Fast Lanes and Slow Lanes

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You’re staying at a hotel. You get online. When you log in, you’re given a choice: You can use the free Internet service that the hotel provides or you can pay extra for “faster downloads.” Like me, you’re a cheapskate, so you choose free. And it works fine … most of the time. But how about first thing in the morning when you’re checking your email? Or maybe right after dinner? Notice something? Yeah, you did — it’s slower. Much slower. And I’m sure you can guess why. Every user of the free service who’s waking up or getting back to their rooms from the conference you’re attending are all complaining about the boring keynote speaker … .and checking their email. And because you’re all sharing the same, free service you’re all suffering from slower performance.

Welcome to net neutrality.

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What Taylor Swift Could Learn From Uber About Spotify

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I was in Las Vegas this week and the taxi driver taking me to the airport asked me what I thought of Uber, the company whose ride sharing service UberX is currently invading Philadelphia. Apparently, the company is also setting its sights on Vegas. After I told him (I’m a fan of the service), I asked him what he thought of Uber. He said, “I’m not entirely sure, but things are always changing in this world and we have to change with them.” Smart guy.

Which brings me to Taylor Swift.

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The PPA Is Right About UberX

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Thank you, Uber, for teaching our city a lesson.

Just this past week two friends of mine were out to dinner in South Philadelphia and needed a cab ride home. It was late. The restaurant was off a main road. There were no cabs around. One of my friends knew all this, so as he finished up the meal he did a very, very “bad” thing. He pulled up the Philadelphia Uber app on his iPhone and ordered an UberX vehicle. And here’s what happened.

The app was easy to use. The app worked fast. The app identified a vehicle for them. They tracked the progress of the car using the app’s GPS service. The car arrived within 10 minutes of being ordered. The car was clean. The driver was nice. He drove them to their destination. They securely paid with one click using the app. They got home safely.

According to the Philadelphia Parking Authority, the company, the driver, and I guess my friends if you want to really stretch it, broke the law.

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Four Lines of Political B.S. That Make Philly Voters Swoon

Got an election coming up? Running for political office in the city of Philadelphia? Or maybe you’re running for a state or local office that requires votes from Philadelphians?

Relax! I’ve got you covered. There’s still plenty of time to win. All you need to do is say the right things.

It doesn’t even have to be what’s right for the city in the long run. Just focus on the short term. Your job is not to make tough decisions and lead. Your job is to just to get elected, OK? That means you must study the polls and just tell the mob what they want to hear so they’ll vote for you. So what do you need to tell them? Here are a few core messages that are guaranteed winners.

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A California Ruling Is More Bad News For Philly Teachers

Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite, left, accompanied by Gov. Tom Corbett, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite, left, accompanied by Gov. Tom Corbett, speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, in Philadelphia.

Being a Philadelphia school district teacher is not an easy job. And this past week it just got harder. Not only because of yesterday’s decision by the School Reform Commission to terminate the district’s agreement with the teachers union and require teachers to now pay in for their health insurance. It’s also because of a ruling in California.

Per Breitbart last Friday:

In what will be a devastating blow to California public employee unions, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein ruled in the Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy of the City of Stockton that pensions managed by the California Public Employee Retirement System, known as CalPERS, can be cut in bankruptcy “like any other garden variety” unsecured debt. He rejected the unions’ argument that the world’s largest pension fund is an “arm of the state” and that public employee pensions are protected by federal and state laws.

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Philadelphians, Suburbanites Are Ripping You Off

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Philadelphians, you are being ripped off. No, not by the government. Nor the parking authority. Nor even the overpriced coffee shop on the corner. You’re being ripped off by none other than me. And my friends. And my neighbors. And it’s time you did something about it.

That’s because the people I know are ripping you off pretty much every weekend (and many weeknights, too). Don’t believe me? Take a look at center city’s streets on a Saturday night. Or the squares on a Sunday afternoon. Go to an Eagles or Phillies game. Ride up and down Kelly Drive. There are lots of Philadelphia residents there, of course. But there are also lots of non-Philadelphians. There are families from New Jersey, tourists from Chicago, and empty-nesters from Lower Merion. We’re all going into town. It’s fun. It’s safe. It’s inviting. We’re using your restaurants and taking advantage of your entertainment. But we’re not paying our fair share. And that’s why you’re getting ripped off.

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Atlantic City Is Not a Happy Place

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Shutterstock

I live outside of Philadelphia, less than 75 minutes away from Atlantic City. But I haven’t visited Atlantic City in more than a decade. Why is this?

It takes less time to go there than New York or DC and other shore towns. There are beautiful hotels. There is no shortage of great entertainment. There are beaches and a boardwalk. It’s the ocean. It’s a resort. Yet … I just don’t go there. Over the years, whenever my wife and I want to take our kids to the shore we always ignore Atlantic City, opting instead for a day at Margate or to rent a house for a week in Ocean City. We are not alone. Most, if not all of my friends, neighbors, even clients are the same way. My mother, who used to go there at least monthly to gamble hasn’t been there in years. Why should she? There are plenty of other gambling alternatives right here in and around the city.

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The Easy Way to Cut Your College Tuition in Half

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A neighbor of mine is sending her son to a well-respected New England liberal arts college. A friend of one of my kids is starting her college career at a West Philadelphia Ivy League institution. Another friend is attending an excellent state school in Michigan. My kids, as I wrote in this month’s Philadelphia magazine, are each attending good schools in the mid-Atlantic area.

As parents, we are all forking over anywhere from $30 to  $60K per year, per kid in tuition, room and board.

Are we paying too much? Yes.

Is it the fault of our higher education system? Mismanagement? Gouging? Yes.

But let’s not entirely blame these colleges. As parents, we share some of this blame. We could be paying a lot less in tuition and getting the same result. But we don’t. Why?

We’re afraid of what others may think. Our egos sometimes get in the way.

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Why Am I Paying $110,000 a Year in College Tuition?

The author in one of his more desperate moments. Photograph by Adam Jones

The author in one of his more desperate moments. Photograph by Adam Jones

There are some jobs I would love to have. Professional baseball player. Writer for Saturday Night Live. U.S. Congressman. With the exception of baseball (I’m only five-foot-six, unfortunately), I think I’d be pretty good at those jobs. But you know what job I’d be really good at? Running a university or college.

I’ve navigated my 10-person company profitably through the economy’s ups and downs over the past 20 years. And now I have the “pleasure” of paying my kids’ college tuitions as all three of them enter their sophomore year. Yes, all three at once. Two go to state colleges (one in-state, the other out-of-state), and one goes to a private university. Total tab: $110,000 a year.

My kids love their schools. They’re happy. I’m happy that they’re happy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. And from what I’ve seen over the past year, as both a parent and a business owner, there is lots of room for improvement. A university president? Me? Here’s what I’d do if given the chance.
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