Memo to Mayor Parker: Collaboration is Key To Philly’s Future

We represent the voices of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. We urge the incoming mayor and City Council to think big, act boldly, and drive regional change with action — not just words — in closer collaboration with the sectors that make this region thrive.

Philadelphia’s next mayor has an opportunity to display a new kind of leadership that delivers on promises made and kept, and that invites the public and private sectors to work together to solve our city’s greatest challenges.

Safety, cleanliness, and access to opportunity through good-paying jobs are the lifelines Philadelphians need. To move Philadelphia forward, the new city leadership must holistically and comprehensively work in partnership with our stakeholders because our collective strength lies in the expertise and lived experiences of our residents.

The public and private sectors each have a responsibility to do more, and we are eager to mobilize and partner with new leadership on day one.

Shared accountability

Other metropolitan areas have embarked upon ambitious and well-capitalized cross-sector partnerships that have measurable outcomes where residents’ lives are demonstrably better because of shared responsibility and defined roles. In Charlotte, NC, Mayor Vi Lyles established a racial equity initiative with public and private support, investing $250 million to remove systemic barriers to opportunity.

By emphasizing collaboration, adopting a long-term vision, and acting with urgency, the next mayor and City Council can lead Philadelphia toward a brighter, more inclusive future.

Without this shared accountability, the needle cannot be moved on any of our most intractable issues of crime, a stubborn poverty rate, and the need for accelerated economic growth. Economic growth generates employment, higher wages, and improved standards, which in turn lifts our neighbors out of poverty and provides them with greater access to opportunities.

We all want the same things, but our history of fragmented, short-term and undercapitalized initiatives will not fundamentally change our status quo. The stakes are too high to settle for our current reality.

Positive growth

The first priority for this kind of partnership must be access to and the ability to create sustaining jobs. The Promise — a public/private partnership among the city, private sector leaders and the community — has leveraged over $25 million and countless stakeholders in every ZIP code in Philadelphia, aimed at removing barriers to secure, stabilize, and grow income for Philadelphians.

This aligns seamlessly with the Chamber’s commitment to job and business growth. Through its “Chamber 2028: Amplify. Advocate. Grow.” strategic plan, the Chamber is positioning the region as a top global destination for business and a leader in inclusive growth.

As we work to reframe our existing and often unfavorable narrative, we must focus on our strengths, such as its rich history, culture, and dynamism. To truly move Philadelphia forward, we must tackle these challenges head-on, finding effective solutions and ensuring safety while celebrating our city’s many achievements and limitless potential.

So how do we move this Philadelphia forward?

First, leadership must be collaborative and offer a sense of unity because a fragmented approach will only hinder progress. We can drive Philadelphia forward by resisting distractions and understanding the distinct roles of government, the private sector, community organizations, and philanthropy.

Second, leadership must have a long-term vision, devoid of fleeting priorities, that identifies a select set of measurable goals that will benefit the entire region.

Lastly, there must be urgency and a shared sense of responsibility. Our neighbors are paying too high a price for our collective complacency. The new mayor and City Council should seize this moment to confront barriers hindering our progress and challenge us to stand shoulder to shoulder to help us achieve something truly great.

United Way and the Chamber are willing to do more to realize a shared vision for change. By emphasizing collaboration, adopting a long-term vision, and acting with urgency, the next mayor and City Council can lead Philadelphia toward a brighter, more inclusive future.

Chellie Cameron is President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Bill Golderer is President and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

From The Philadelphia Citizen