Philly doesn’t yet know who its next mayor will be — heck, we’re not entirely sure who all the candidates will be — but the Chamber of Commerce is getting a head-start on economic development planning for the administration.
On Thursday, the business group announced plans to start a citywide discussion about improving Philadelphia's economy. The campaign, known as the "Roadmap for Growth for Philadelphia: 2015 to 2020," will begin with a listening tour this fall, in which neighborhood leaders will be tapped for ideas about how to cultivate jobs and small businesses.
The chamber will also solicit ideas at forums in upcoming months and stage a debate among mayoral candidates next spring. It expects to present the best policy recommendations to emerge from the process to Philadelphia's next mayor and City Council, and make experts available to help implement them.
"Our purpose isn't necessarily to influence an election," said Rob Wonderling, chamber president. "It's to be a gathering of people and ideas that are part of the electoral process. We hope new individuals that have never been involved in a public policy discussion around a mayor's election will say, 'I want to get involved.'"
The Inquirer says the effort will be data-driven:
Step One in the chamber's "Roadmap for Growth" campaign was the release Wednesday of an inventory of how the city stands in terms of demographics and economic health.
The study was produced by Econsult Solutions, which also is under contract with Council to help with its initiative announced Wednesday to link existing databases to offer real-time rankings of city neighborhoods by quality of life.
It noted approvingly the well-reported upturn in the city's population since 2005. … Economically, the city has continued to lose manufacturing and financial-services jobs, while higher education, health services, and tourism remain on the rise.
The group plans to sponsor a mayoral debate before next year's primary election.