Can Tech Make Philly a World-Class City?

A lot of young people think so. And so does the Economy League

Inside the pages of this magazine’s December 2008 issue, the 100 moments that most shaped this city were listed in careful detail.

No. 66 was Philadelphia’s 1976 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence — and the celebration’s failure to live up to expectations of what could have been a “splashy affair befitting its status as the nation’s birthplace.” Instead, that feature’s contributors dubbed it “a glorified community-theater production of The Music Man.”

Maybe that’s what has the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and its Executive Director Steven Wary all hot and bothered. [SIGNUP]

Wednesday night, the regional economic development research and analysis nonprofit will host the second to last of a baker’s dozen of interactive invite-only sessions calling on business, nonprofit, government and community leaders from across the region to discuss what’s important for the region’s future. Those World Class Roundtables, which started in February, are part of a much larger initiative from the Economy League.

The World Class Greater Philadelphia is a project of benchmarking, scenario planning and strategic planning focused chiefly on 2026 — 50 years after the city duffed the last big birthday for our country’s first signaling independence.

“We’ll continue to have great achievements and growth before then,” Wray tells Technically Philly. “But that is a time when this region should once again be recognized as among the world’s best.”

The roundtables are meant to provide the widest, most representative viewpoints of the directions the region should take to be the strongest it can be 16 years from now.

A lot of the assets that can help grow Philadelphia’s reputation will surprise few frequent Technically Philly readers. The city’s location, infrastructure and opportunity to take a lead with online government transparency movements are vital, Wray says. He also speaks about the growing excitement for Philadelphia from young people, particularly among young entrepreneurs who are working in the creative economies of the region.

“Really, we want to this be a place where young people will come and crash on a buddy’s couch before they take a job here.” Wray said. “It’s about outwardly having a reputation as a place people admire and want to visit and learn from.. and growing wealth and opportunity for everyone in Philadelphia.”