Here’s Why Philly Businesses Will Gladly Pay Millions for the Pope and DNC

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Fact: If the Democratic National Committee decides to hold its 2016 convention in Philadelphia the cost could range anywhere from $50-$75 million dollars. While the federal government would pick up most of this cost, as much as $10 million could fall on our local government (at least, that’s what New York’s mayor predicts if the convention came to his town).

Fact: When the pope visits Philadelphia in 2015 as part of the World Meeting of Families the estimated cost could be another $13 million, (the city of Milan paid 10 million euros when it hosted the event in 2012).

Fact: $10 million plus $13 million means the city could be on the hook for up to $23 million in additional expenses for these two events. Maybe even more.

Fact: It’s likely that Philadelphia’s business community will step up and raise the money to pay this bill so that taxpayers are not out of pocket. “We’re the fifth largest city in America,” Comcast’s David Cohen recently said in a radio interview. “And I think our civic leadership has the capacity to be able to raise the money to host these two pretty special events in consecutive years in Philadelphia.”

Great!  The city needs $23 million, and the business community will likely step up.

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20 Easy Predictions for the Coming Year


The Revel casino is closing down. Duh. Anyone could’ve seen that coming. And most of the people I know did. We saw the new casinos in Philly and Valley Forge. We heard about the high prices at Revel. Even my own mom, a hardened slot machine competitor who used to travel to AC a few times a month has preferred to gamble locally because it’s cheaper and she can lose her money closer to home.

You knew this too. You are old enough and smart enough to be able to predict the future. In fact, there are a lot of things that you know right now that will happen sometime in the next 12 months. Just take a moment and think about it…

Jose Garces will be fine. Sure, the closing of the Revel means he’s out four restaurants. But are you worried about him? Didn’t think so.

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3 Rules for Surviving (and Thriving) on Yelp


My sister is a really good doctor. She runs two busy offices in South Philly. Her patients include CEOs of large companies and union workers from the neighborhood. She sees everything from colds to cancer and knows the best specialists in town. I wouldn’t let her cut my fingernails, of course. But that’s because she’s my sister and I still remember her as a bossy 15-year-old. But her patients I know love her.

Except for this one guy. He skewered her on Yelp. He complained about her office. He gave her a low rating. And what was worse, that she didn’t even know about it until somebody (that was a gloating me) told her about it. She barely knew about Yelp. But apparently, her office was listed there and a handful of people made comments — all great except for the one guy. And it really, really upset her. I get it — people don’t like to hear bad stuff.

Is your business on Yelp? You better check.

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9 Cities Mayor Nutter Should Be Visiting


During the past few years years Mayor Nutter has taken over six international trips including visits to China, England, Israel, Italy, and now this past week … Paris.  Last week’s trip, according to this report, was “meant to attract new business to the city and promote Philadelphia as a cycling mecca and tourist destination.

Let’s turn the tables. Suppose the mayor of Paris visited Philadelphia to promote his city. Would that persuade you to go? Or would your decision to visit be because Paris is just Paris — a great, vibrant capital of art, food and commerce in Europe. Do you visit a city just because the mayor asks you to? Does a business move to a city for the same reason? When you think of a mayor, any mayor, do you think of him (or her) as a salesperson? A world traveler? An ambassador of the city? I don’t. It’s nice to have a mayor that we’re all proud of. And I’m proud of Mayor Nutter. He’s professional, honest and capable. He reflects our city well.

I don’t mind our mayor visiting other cities. But unfortunately, he’s visiting the wrong places. And he has the wrong agenda.

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Philly, You’re No Houston


Why is Houston doing so well? In an interesting Wall Street Journal piece earlier this week, two urban planning experts say that Houston’s “pro-growth policies have produced an urban powerhouse — and a blueprint for metropolitan revival.” The writers say:

[T]he city’s low cost of living and high rate of job growth have made Houston and its surrounding metro region attractive to young families. According to Pitney Bowes, Houston will enjoy the highest growth in new households of any major city between 2014 and 2017. A recent U.S. Council of Mayors study predicted that the American urban order will become increasingly Texan, with Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth both growing larger than Chicago by 2050.

But really? Is Houston that good? Better than Philly? For the most part, no. But for one big part: yes.

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How To Effectively Use Profanity In The Workplace


Mayor Nutter has come under some heat this past week over the more-than-liberal use of profanity during the recent Fourth of July concert on the Parkway.

I understand the concern. It’s a public, family oriented event. The crowds are brutal, the heat is oppressive and with the exception of The Roots, the music really isn’t that great. (What, you actually like Ed Sheeran?)

And on top of that you have to hear bad language?

What would our forefathers say about this? What would Jay-Z say about this?

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Tom Corbett Is Absolutely Right About Pension Reform

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, right, along with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, left; hold a news conference in his chambers addressing the state budget-spending plan for the new fiscal year that starts in less than 40 hours, Sunday, June 29, 2014 in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)

AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

He’s right, you know.

I’m talking about Tom Corbett. Our Governor. A man who probably doesn’t hear “you know Tom, you’re absolutely right” very often. Definitely not from many people on this side of the state. I’ve been disappointed by some of the Governor’s actions (or inactions) too – his lack of leadership on our schools, his lack of appearances in this area, his lack of courage when facing those protestors at Central High back in January. He may be a nice guy, but he doesn’t come across that way in the media. Yes, he’s a Republican and Philly is a Democratic stronghold. But even among Republicans here, Corbett’s popularity is tepid, at best.

But on one issue, the Governor is right: pension reform. He’s right to use the lack of pension reform measures as a reason to hold off on signing the state’s budget. He’s right to use it as a negotiating point in the funding of our schools. He’s right to fight for this unpopular measure even if it means depleting his already-depleted reserves of political capital this election year.

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The 9 Rules For Having A Successful Softball Season

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It’s that time of year. Your softball team has started its quest for the league trophy. And for a brief, shining time, you can once again pretend you’re 12 years old. And this gives your sad, frustrating life a moment of meaning. You have the chance to be the superstar that you dreamed you’d be back in Little League. The scrappy leadoff hitter, the gold -glove outfielder, the competitive athlete. For just a few hours you can pretend that you have a full head of hair and no belly. You’re no longer a CPA or a bus driver. You’re that skinny kid in high school with the quick bat and the sexy swagger.

Softball is your chance to show the world that you’ve still got it. It’s your opportunity to demonstrate just how cool you can be, just because you can hit a ball the size of a grapefruit that’s thrown at you underhanded at two miles per hour a hundred feet into shallow center field. You are the man. You are a softball player. And OK, in reality, you’re not very good. But you’re still there, still playing, still showing up to every game! That’s because you’ve learned the rules. The rules of the veteran softball player.

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Staples’s Wayne-Based Safety Guru Bob Risk: Most Businesses Are Not Prepared for Emergencies


Careful, people of Wayne. You may be putting yourself at risk!  Is your town unsafe?

It would appear to be the case. Especially if all you did for a living was consider safety. And that’s the dilemma faced by Bob Risk. He’s the national safety, health and wellness manager at Staples (a client of mine). Poor Bob. And no, in case you were wondering, he didn’t earn that position just because of his name. He has decades of experience selling safety-related products and services. And everywhere he looks he sees safety concerns. Even in beautiful Wayne, which also happens to be his beloved hometown of more than 30 years.

“I walk up North Wayne Avenue and see business owners who I’ve known for years who just don’t really understand all the hazards they face,” Risk recently told me. “It concerns me.”

Are we in danger by shopping and eating there? No, not really. But Wayne is no different than anywhere else.

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Sam Katz Is Right: It’s Time for Philly to Get Creative and Privatize

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Sam Katz is right.

In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece, he urged “creative solutions” to the city’s funding crises. Among his recommendations were the passing of an additional sales tax and completing the sale of the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) so that the proceeds could be used to partially fund the city’s pension liabilities and school district budget gaps. “In approving the sale of PGW and dedicating the first $120 million of the sales tax to our schools, the city can tackle both problems and send a powerful message to the skeptical state leaders that Philadelphia is innovatively addressing challenges with smart policy choices,” he wrote.

By why stop there? Katz, a former mayoral candidate and a business man, is only proposing what any other rational business person would do when faced with too much debt and not enough cash flow: Sell assets and pay down liabilities. He wants the city to be more creative, more innovative. And he’s on to something.

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