Philadelphia is likely to become the first U.S. city designated a World Heritage City, an elite title given to about 250 municipalities worldwide, officials in Mayor Nutter's administration said Thursday.
A Philadelphia delegation, including Nutter, advocated for the city's bid while on a trip to Puebla, Mexico, this week.
The designation from the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), which Philadelphia has been seeking for several years, has the potential to enhance the city's status on the world stage and boost the city as an international tourism site and business hub.
Fernando Trevino, deputy director of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs, said city officials believe the organization will approve Philadelphia's application at its November meeting.
"We have a really good indication from their feedback that we're going to be in good position," he said.
Philadelphia has been an "observing" member of the OWHC, which has headquarters in Québec City, Québec, for two years and is seeking permanent status.
The group's members are cities that have made a notable impact on the world. Each is the home of a UNESCO World Heritage site - one such site is Independence Hall.
A world heritage designation can bring in a host of benefits to a city, including increased global competitiveness, more tourism and conferences, and the attraction of grants and investments, according to city officials.
Sylvie Gallier Howard, deputy chief of staff for the city's director of commerce, said it also would open the door to business and cultural relationships with the other world heritage cities.
"And then there's also just a matter of civic pride," she said. "Philadelphians, we don't celebrate our city as much as we should or could."
The November OWHC meeting will take place in Arequipa, Peru. Trevino said the OWHC board is composed of members from eight cities, including Puebla, Mexico's fourth largest city. That board will make a recommendation to the OWHC's general assembly regarding Philadelphia's request, he said.
Trevino said Nutter met with the mayor of Puebla, as well as the mayor of Mexico City, while on a three-day trip that began Monday. Both mayors have since publicly expressed support for Philadelphia's bid.
Nutter said the support was one highlight of the trip to Puebla, which was meant to strengthen ties with that region of Mexico. According to the city, more than 18,000 people from the Puebla region immigrated to Philadelphia between 2008 and 2014, and members of that community have helped to grow many small businesses in the city, especially in the Italian Market area.
"An additional benefit certainly to this relatively short visit was the gaining of significant international support for Philadelphia to become a World Heritage City," Nutter said. "We're very, very proud to have that support."