University City Keystone Innovation Zone to Expand Into Old City

Tech startups in the "N3rd Street" area will now be eligible for special tax credits.

The University City KIZ will now include parts of Old City. | UC KIZ

The University City KIZ will now include parts of Old City. | UC KIZ

Mayor Jim Kenney, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce and the University City Keystone Innovation Zone announced today that the UC KIZ will expand to include parts of Old City, home of a growing tech community.

The announcement took place at Arcweb, a digital product and design firm that is located in the heart of this budding area on N. 3rd St. — or as some call it, “N3rd Street” (say it: Nerd Street).

The University City Keystone Innovation Zone now stretches from 42nd St. in University City, through Center City and all the way down to Front St. in Old City.

“It’s very exciting to see what’s happening in Old City and in other parts of our communities that have not generally been in the tech sector,” said Mayor Kenney. “The expansion of the zone will help propel that even faster and further than it has already even in other parts of the city.”

Keystone Innovation Zones are geographically designated areas that give eligible tech companies up to $100,000 annually in sellable tax credits. Companies must be a for-profit business, in operation for less than eight years, focused on innovation in life sciences or technology, and located within the zone to receive the credits.

In the past 10 years, 48 of these companies have been awarded almost $8 million in tax credits, according to Stephen S. Tang, president and CEO of the University City Science Center. The Science Center operates finances for the UC KIZ.

These credits have direct benefits for the companies.

“What this credit essentially means to us is that we can add one to two high-paying jobs here in the city, and for me, as CEO, that’s incredibly meaningful and I think it’s incredibly meaningful for all the people who are here,” said Chris Cera, CEO of Arcweb.

“If you go into your local coffee shop in the Old City district and you grab somebody sitting in there, most likely they’re a technology worker, and I don’t think that is found anywhere else in Philadelphia, so I think it is truly unique,” he added. “I’ll make a prediction: This is going to be the tech center of Philly, here in Old City, in 10 years.”

The KIZ program was started by then-Governor Ed Rendell as an incentive for tech startups to operate near one another and create a “knowledge neighborhood.” There are currently 29 in Pennsylvania and three in Philadelphia.

The two in Philadelphia in addition to the UC KIZ are the BioLaunch 611+, which spans North and Northeast Philly, and the Navy Yard KIZ, which is at the Navy Yard in South Philly.

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