The Philadelphia region is doing surprisingly well in industry that requires a creative flair, a new report has found.

Philadelphia ranked first in earnings at $98.6 billion in 2005 in areas such as architecture, engineering and software design, and came in second in employment with 306,000 jobs among its six chief competitors: Boston, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Tampa and Austin, Texas.

Only Boston did better in employment, with 360,000 jobs, according to an executive summary of "Creative Footprint: The Economic Impact of the Philadelphia Region's For-Profit Creative Economy," released yesterday.

"Creative-industry employment within the Philadelphia region generates an estimated total annual economic impact of nearly $60 billion in total output [spending]. This includes $32.5 billion in total annual earnings and supports 766,000 jobs," the study found.

"The report validates the impact of for-profit creative economy in Philadelphia and proves that it is a growing industry and has the potential to have an even greater impact," said Kelly Lee, executive vice president of Innovation Philadelphia, which released the study.

She said it also provides proof that it is smart to invest in the creative industry in the region.

Innovation Philadelphia is an economic-development organization funded by the city to focus on growing jobs and businesses. The report's economic analysis was conducted by the research firm Econsult Corp.

The creative-industry sectors cited in the report include architecture, engineering and planning; communications and marketing; digital media and programming; fashion design; graphic and visual arts; information technology; music, film and video production; photography; and software development.

The report also made several recommendations, including that the region: continue to promote the for-profit creative economy; develop innovative financing programs that target creative entrepreneurs; brand the Philadelphia region as a hub of creative enterprise; and target key creative-industry sectors already exhibiting strength in the region.

Lee said that what's important to note about the good showing for Philadelphia is that those creative industries that are already doing well above the national average - such as digital media and programming, photography and software - are coming up with those results without a concerted effort to brand the region as a creative-industry hub.

"If [the creative economy] is having such an impact already with very little effort," Lee said, "imagine what could happen with a coordinated, collaborative strategy to grow this industry sector and brand this region as a creative destination."

The 11-county region the study examined included Philadelphia and Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester counties in Pennsylvania; Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, Salem and Mercer counties in New Jersey; and New Castle County in Delaware. The report can be obtained at www.innovationphiladelphia. com. *