Was Mayor Kenney a Catalyst for Vanguard’s Philly Innovation Center?

The city has been pushing for company satellite offices.

Image via Instagram.

Image via Instagram.

The line of institutions developing innovation hubs in Philadelphia just got longer: Mutual-fund giant Vanguard Group recently announced plans to open an innovation center in Philadelphia by mid-2017.

The company says its Innovation Center will initially support a crew of 20 members who will serve as catalysts for new ideas and solutions. The exact location of the facility is to be determined.

While innovation is the theme being touted in Vanguard’s announcement, the news is also in line with the city’s concerted effort to have companies open satellite offices in the city.

Over the past few months, Mayor Kenney has met with several companies that don’t have a physical home in the city but have employees who live here, said Sara Merriman, the city’s senior director of business attraction and retention. Merriman could not comment on whether the Mayor has met with Vanguard.

But in a statement to Philadelphia magazine, Mayor Kenney said, “We appreciate Vanguard’s initial decision to establish an innovation team in Philadelphia […] We will continue to work with them on the details of this new presence.”

Merriman, who helps companies set up shop in Philadelphia, says the benefits of having an office in the city are countless. For one, companies have direct access to the talent they seek. The talent Vanguard is looking for wants to live and work in one place, she said. Growing a company is about giving employees a choice — a choice to live and contribute to the city’s thriving ecosystem.

Improving the quality of life for employees is not a factor to be underestimated. “People are better, more effective employees when they don’t have to be stuck on the Schuylkill for an hour and a half every day,” Merriman said.

And when companies don’t have a presence in the city, they’re limiting themselves.

“You have low exposure to new ideas or the latest tech when you’re sitting in your company’s facilities out in the suburbs,” said Merriman.

Vanguard is keeping up with regional and national companies and institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, Comcast, the Sixers and Microsoft that have plans for innovation towers and campuses. And in the case of Penn’s Pennovation Center and Microsoft’s Reactor, the plans have already materialized.

“We hope that others look to Vanguard and consider whether their business could benefit,” said Merriman.

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