Philadelphia a center of business innovation

Posted: July 16, 2012

Philadelphia is a great incubator of innovation and stands at the forefront of America's new economy. It once had an international reputation as a center for manufacturing — Budd train cars, Stetson hats, textiles, and everything in between.

That legacy continues in the 21st century as Philadelphia's economy is increasingly powered by new sectors of innovation. This major economic engine is being spurred by the Obama administration's investment two years ago of $129 million, which is being administered by the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy, and Labor.

The centerpiece of that investment is the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub at the Navy Yard. This innovation hub attracts start-ups and clean-economy businesses that are fueling regional economic growth and job creation. The hub was the winner two years ago of the Obama administration's multiagency Energy Regional Innovation Cluster competition.

Since then, this collaborative hub of scientists, researchers, and engineers has been working to promote energy efficiency and help America to adopt a more sustainable and competitive energy supply. For example, there are more than 4,000 buildings in the region that could benefit from energy-savings retrofits, and if we develop this sector, it would create thousands of jobs for Americans.

Through this project and other groundbreaking efforts across the region, such as the University City Science Center Quorum, Independents Hall (a Center City co-working space for small businesses and others), and Philly Start-up Leaders, innovation and entrepreneurism are driving Philadelphia's growing reputation as a smart choice for business.

With such creative American spirit, the United States will secure its position in the 21 st century as a global center for innovation. As President Obama said, "We are a nation of strivers and climbers and entrepreneurs — the hardest-working people on Earth."

That striving and work ethic was on display last week at Philadelphia's Loews Hotel, host of the conference Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Collaboration: New Strategies for Economic Success. The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration was one of the sponsors of the forum.

In this century of change, it will take large, sustained investments to transform Philadelphia and cities across America as they move from 20th-century manufacturing-based economies into global, innovation-based ones. The nation's prosperity and global competitiveness depend on our ability to grow the knowledge economy. We can win the future by doing what America does best — investing in the creativity and imagination of our people.

E-mail the writers at fattah.office@mail.house.gov, michael.nutter@phila.gov, and matthew.scott.erskine@eda.gov.

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