DWARFED IN front of a brand-new AW 119Kx helicopter, Mayor Nutter announced the findings that his manufacturing task force came up with after a year's worth of study into how to boost manufacturing in Philadelphia.
The mayor unveiled his "Manufacturing Growth Strategy for Philadelphia" during a well-attended news conference yesterday at AgustaWestland - a global helicopter manufacturing company nestled near the Northeast Philadelphia Airport.
"Manufacturing is alive in Philadelphia and will grow as a result of your dedicated focus," he told a panel of more than two dozen task-force members, composed of local elected officials, business leaders and dignitaries.
In January, Nutter commissioned a team of private-sector business leaders to work in conjunction with the mayor's advisory committee, representing the interests of government, economic development, academia, utilities and the labor workforce.
The report lists a series of recommendations the city plans to implement to heighten its competitiveness for manufacturing on an international stage. Among them, the task force gave a lengthy list of improvements on how the city solicits itself in the areas of talent, innovation, access to capital, government and regulation, energy and advocacy networks, and business development.
"I've commissioned the commerce department to establish a working group, which will meet monthly to implement the recommendations. This is more than just a report. It is our blueprint for the future," Nutter said.
At the beginning of the year, the city authorized the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation to enter into a $260,000 contract with IHS Global Inc. to conduct the study. Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said the plan is to begin implementing the task force's recommendations, although it is unclear what costs lie down the line.
"This plan does not carry a specific price tag with it. The mayor was careful not to suggest one, but there may be costs associated with it in the future," McDonald said.
Councilman Bobby Henon, co-chairman of the task force, said a bill he has introduced aimed at exempting manufacturing firms from the use-and-occupancy tax is one means of drawing new business to the region. It is currently on Council's final passage calendar.
As it stands, the city employs roughly 23,000 workers in the manufacturing industry, while about 163,000 work in the field throughout the five-county region. The hope behind the task force's work is that the city and region will become stronger candidates for federal manufacturing dollars.