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Commerce’s 2016 Highlights

It has been a busy year for the Department of Commerce. Here are some highlights from 2016:

Major Business Attraction and Retention Success

  • Aramark, Five Below and Yards Brewing Company all announced plans to keep their headquarters in Philadelphia and move to larger locations within the city.
  • Vanguard announced plans to open a satellite office in Philadelphia that will serve as an innovation center for the company.
  • Two of the highly-anticipated Center City Target stores (12th & Chestnut and 19th & Chestnut) opened in 2016.
  • WuXi AppTec opened its third laboratory facility at the Navy Yard in October, which has the potential to accommodate an additional 200 high-tech manufacturing and support jobs when fully operational.
  • Whole Foods opened their new store at 22nd & Pennsylvania Avenue, maintaining the existing 270- person staff and adding 80-90 more.
  • Three international businesses have committed to a presence in Philadelphia and 30 international business attraction leads have been generated.

Philadelphia’s Presence at SXSW

  • The City had its first established presence at SXSW in 2016, highlighting Philadelphia as a hub for startups and promoting the company’s, innovations and technologies created here.
  • Mayor Kenney will become the first Philadelphia mayor to visit the event in 2017. Mayor Kenney’s participation in the upcoming event will show the Administration’s dedication to elevating and supporting the city’s tech scene.

Expanded Small Business Services

  • To aid small businesses, Commerce compiled and published a master list of technical and financial assistance providers.
  • The Business Coach Program was established late in 2016. It is geared toward helping businesses that do not initially get approved for Commerce programs and ensuring underserved businesses are able to access assistance.

Loans to Support Business Improvement & Expansion

  • The Department of Commerce launched the Capital Consortium, a group of nonprofit and for-profit lenders that review loan applications submitted on a single form, to increase access to capital for small businesses.
  • In 2016, 62 projects have been completed and reimbursed through the Storefront Improvement Program.
  • The Department’s InStore Program has approved nine applications and seven projects (representing over $300,000 in forgivable loans) have been completed in 2016.
  • Kiva, which provides 0% interest crowdfunded small business loans, has distributed 24 loans totaling $155,000 this year.
  • In 2016, Business Technical Assistance Providers (BTAP) served nearly 900 businesses throughout the city. Providers made 184 loans to small businesses, totaling over $1 million.

Investments in Philadelphia’s Talent Pipeline

  • In the spring of 2016, the Commerce Department launched a new Talent Development Unit to strengthen and train Philadelphia’s workforce.
  • Commerce awarded Philadelphia Youth Network a $45,000 grant to be used to increase the technology and communications infrastructure for the Summer WorkReady program, supporting an increase in the number of summer 2017 slots.
  • The Department of Commerce and Mayor’s Office of Education formed a CTE Working Group, whose goals include: increasing awareness, making CTE programs more accessible, and fostering mutually beneficial relationships between the programs, its students, and the business community.
  • The Managing Director and Commerce Director together formed and jointly lead a new cross-sector Workforce Development Committee. The steering committee is committed to developing talent and model employers, focusing on high-need populations (including disconnected youth and returning citizens), and removing individual and structural barriers to workforce success.