WHY WE CREATED A RESIDENT ATTRACTION PROGRAM FOR PHILADELPHIA
At the start of the 1970s, most of the city’s census tracts were largely middle class; by 2010, just over 3 in 10 fit that description resulting in wide-ranging effects on the city's socioeconomic structure, and a demographic imbalance that continues today notably, the city having the highest poverty rate among major U.S. cities, and a persistently vulnerable middle-class. Although our population is growing again, and initiatives to enhance social and economic mobility for residents have been launched, additional strategies are needed as peer cities continue to attract people with greater pace, diversity, and higher educational attainment and income levels.
Some cities are more fortunate in terms of a natural influx of talent and people whereby a combination of the city's brand, job concentrations or unique communities allow them more consideration. Philadelphia has been much less fortunate. Now, as people increasingly consider leaving high-cost areas, Philadelphia's reasonable cost of living compared to other large east coast cities should elevate the city's standing as a desirable place to work and live yet, the city struggles to attract people in general, and with diverse middle-income people primarily because the city lacks significant brand awareness among diverse populations outside of the region.
The considerations made when choosing a new city for work or for living are highly impacted by a city's brand, which increasingly encompasses a city's diversity and lifestyle assets. Our ethnic communities make significant contributions but, in being historically smaller (chart B), poorer, and less diverse compared to peer cities, the level of "online" content reflecting their vibrancy and size is limited, and often results in the city being overlooked.
Attraction programs have served the city well when Philly's brand was not well understood and lacked connection with certain individual groups; consider Visit Philadelphia for tourists who decades ago, many visited other cities for historical sites and urban exploration; and Campus Philly, which attracts and connects college students to the assets and benefits of living and working in the city upon graduation. Now, we believe the city must prioritize the growth of Philadelphia's middle class in order to tackle the demographic imbalance that limits the potential of the city and helps to better secure a greater quality of life our residents deserve.
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