These Innovators Won Big at the 2017 PACT Enterprise Awards

The scene at the 2017 PACT Enterprise Awards. Image via Twitter.

On Thursday night, the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT), held their 24th Annual Enterprise Awards. The event, sponsored by Fairmount Partners, honored eleven local businesses and individuals that have made exceptional contributions to technology, healthcare and related fields. With a record number of over 400 submissions, this year’s Enterprise Awards were the most competitive yet, with a list of winners spanning every branch of Philly’s hotbed of innovation. Read more »

Spotted: Has Work Started on Aloft Hotel Connected to the Convention Center?

A view from Arch Street

A view from Arch Street

Have you been in or around the Convention Center area recently, say for the World Meetings of Families festivities? Well, chances are good that you passed under (or at least saw) a protective construction barrier that wraps the Liberty Title and Trust Building at Broad and Arch Street.

The street cover has been in place for some time now, so that’s not really news. However, more recently, scaffolding has been hung high above the street, as it looks like work to (finally) re-purpose the building into an Aloft Hotel by Starwood has begun in earnest.

Multiple permits provide some intriguing details about the project, including a use change permit granted in late August, which will allow for three new retail spaces on the first floor and “181 dwelling units” from floors 3 through 20.

A sit-down restaurant, lobby and “accessory meeting room” are to be location on the 2nd floor of the building.

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The Brief: Philly’s Hotel Occupancy Rates Explode to a Modern High


The Pennsylvania Convention Center | Photo by Jeff Fusco

1. Philadelphia’s hotels were more booked last month than during any other June since 1993.

The gist: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Center City’s hotel occupancy rates “reached 89.4 percent in June, the highest June rate since 1993” and that hotels were “booked nearly to full capacity on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, at 97.9 percent and 96.4 percent, respectively.” The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau attributes the hotel industry’s success partly to three big conventions that took place here last month.

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Carpenters Union Sued for Racketeering

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The battle between the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the ousted carpenters union has taken another ugly turn: Thursday afternoon, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority (PCCA) filed a federal RICO complaint against the union, as a whole as well as against specific members.

Named defendants are Edward Coryell Sr., Edward Coryell Jr., J.R. Hocker, Richard Rivera, Ronald Curran, Kenyatta Bundy and Richard Washlick, as well as 10 John Does.

The complaint outlines the entire history of the conflict, starting with the carpenters’ initial refusal to sign the new customer service agreement that the other unions signed. (The carpenters later signed the agreement, but after a center-set deadline to do so.) The suit characterizes Ed Coryell Sr.’s negotiations as “belligerent brinksmanship,” and says when that failed, the union launched “a campaign of illegal violence and intimidation” including “illegal and disruptive mass picketing and protests; physical intimidation, harassment, stalking, and assault and battery; verbal intimidation, harassment, race-baiting, and threats; and the destruction of property.”

Such behavior, the suit alleges, did serious harm to the Convention Center financially “in the form of property damage, lost business, and added expenses for security, customer and exhibitor relations, and legal fees.” The center seeks more than $1 million and a total end to the union’s alleged bad behavior.

The carpenters wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.

So that’s the case, in a nutshell. But the complaint, as it must, gets into some pretty extensive detail about what, allegedly, the carpenters did. Let’s break down the allegations:

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Would Exhibitors Flee if Carpenters Returned to Convention Center?

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

If the carpenters union returns to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Sue Hueg wants none of it.

Hueg, the vice president of events for National Business Media has seen it both ways — shows that involved the carpenters and one that didn’t. The difference between the two, she said, was unmistakable.

“They’re very difficult to work with, they’re back in the 1800s,” Hueg said of the carpenters and their work rules, which she said frequently forced exhibitors to unnecessarily rely on union labor to build convention displays that vendors could build themselves. That made convention-going in Philly both difficult and expensive, she said.

“We need hard-working, customer-service-oriented people who understand exhibitors are on a budget,” Hueg said. “This is not hard to understand.”  Read more »

Philly Film Festival Will Host a Pop-Up Film Festival at the Flower Show

Ghostbusters is among the films playing at Philadelphia Film Society's pop-up film festival at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Ghostbusters is among the films playing at Philadelphia Film Society’s pop-up film festival at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

This year’s Philadelphia Flower Show is themed “Celebrate the Movies,” so it’s no wonder they’ve teamed up with the Philadelphia Film Society on a pop-up film festival that will take place in the Grand Hall of the Pennsylvania Convention Center throughout the run of the Flower Show. Among the films being shown are classics, like Ghostbusters, Wizard of Oz and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, all shown on loop during regular show hours. Check out the full schedule below:

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Convention Center Got Restraining Order Against Carpenters Union

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Members of Philadelphia’s carpenter’s union have been protesting outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center for months. On Saturday, the laborers took their message inside the center — directly to attendees of the Philadelphia Auto Show.

On that much, both sides agree. After that, there’s plenty of disagreement.

John J. McNichol, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, alleges that the 200-some-odd union members who entered the auto show were “disruptive” — vandalizing cars on display and acting belligerently.

“Some of them tried to intimidate our exhibitors,” McNichol said Monday morning.

Martin O’Rourke, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Council of Carpenters, rejected accusations of damage or bad behavior, saying the carpenters spent their time at the show “peacefully” handing out leaflets.

“No vandalism, no vandalism whatsoever,” O’Rourke said. “They were exerting their First Amendment right to protest. “

One fact not in dispute: On Sunday, a judge signed a restraining order commanding the union not to interfere with the show. Both sides stipulated to the order, which can be seen below (the order is erroneously dated 2014 rather than 2015).

Despite the incident, McNichol said, Saturday saw 60,000 people attend the auto show — its No. 1 attendance day ever. “This was far and away the smoothest show we’ve had,” he said.

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Teamsters, Carpenters Lose Latest Bid to Return to Convention Center

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The Teamsters and Carpenters unions have reportedly lost their latest bid to return to work at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The two unions had filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the center, where they’ve been shut out since a coalition of other Philadelphia unions signed a work agreement last year. An official said Monday that a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board had dismissed the complaint, NewsWorks reports.  The unions have 20 days to appeal to the full board, reports the Inquirer, pending a written report from the examiner who dismissed the complaint.

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Labor Peace at Convention Center Gets Big Test


CBS Philly reports that the still-young labor agreement at the Pennsylvania Convention Center gets a big test this week when the Infectious Diseases Society of America meets here.

Why? Because the society is a return visitor, and will be able help local officials assess if the agreement they struck — in which some of the unions made concessions in exchange for the promise of more jobs — has led to an improved experience for customers at the convention center. Previous problems at the center were blamed on overly onerous labor rules that were reportedly costly and irritating to convention attendees.

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Korean Bribes Helped Build Convention Center, Feds Say

Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced it had seized $500,000 from former South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan. Obviously, there is a Philadelphia connection: The money seized from Chun was bribe money laundered through the Convention Center expansion.

Chun was South Korea’s president in the 1980s and owes the country $143.5 million from corruption during his time in office. He’s considered the country’s last military strongman. He was sentenced to death in the 1990s, but it was commuted.

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