PROTECTING A VALUABLE ASSET: TIME PENN STATE PUTS SCANDAL BEHIND
PENTHOUSE CONDO COMBINES LUXURY & STUNNING VIEWS
A JOURNAL OF BUSINESS AND POLITICS
HOW TO SCARE UP BIG BUSINESS DURING A RECESSION Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore. In fact, it’s grown into a mult-billion dollar industry with a dramatic impact across the Delaware Valley.
CITY COUNCIL CHASES MORE DELINQUENT TAXES FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR SEAPORT MUSEUM’S NEW CEO IS YOUR ORGANIZATION ENGAGED OR ENTANGLED? RegionsBusiness.com $2.00 U.S.
18 OCTOBER 2012
25 OCTOBER 2012
Holiday A Treat For Region
Council Goes After Delinquent Taxes
Halloween is all grown up as adults have turned it into a $6 billion industry nationwide. Our area has followed the trend and business is boo-ming. !
A new bill looks to get property owners to pay up. !
1900 Arch Street
Penn State Moves On, Sandusky Continues Legal Battle
1900 Arch Street is a premier mixed use development project in the Logan Square section of Philadelphia. Scheduled for completion in Fall of 2013, the project will feature 280 luxury apartments, private parking, and 16,333 SF of ground floor retail.
The University continues efforts to move past the sex abuse scandal, but legal challenges continue and one of the victims just published a book. !
Full Steam Ahead at Seaport Museum
How To Protect Your Most Valuable Asset
A new CEO hopes to bring new life and energy to a part of the Philadelphia museum scene. !
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There are endless demands on time, your most valuable finite resource. Here are some ways to keep yourself on track. !
PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER James D. McDonald EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Karl M. Smith
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Helping Businesses and Media Work Together
Karl Smith is the Editorial Director for Region’s Business. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Back in August, when we kicked off with our “Visions of a WorldClass Philadelphia” package, we got wind of one of the region’s great success stories - tourism. As the weeks and months have rolled past, we have revisited that theme multiple times. We’ve been shown impressive data sets showing the massive - and growing impact of tourism on the region’s economy. We’ve also been privvy to some exceptionally innovative efforts aimed at keeping the word alive about all that the region has to offer. Just last month, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation held a “speed reporting” event, inviting a bunch of media outlets to hear elevator pitches by more than a dozen of the region’s most interesting cultural groups.
This will certainly generate dozens of great stories - in print, online and over radio and TV - throughout the next several months, if not the entire year. It was a top-shelf event and helped these groups connect with the media. Fast forward to the end of last week, and the talented people over at Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, did the same thing with a twist at the annual meeting. Like most annual meetings, it was held at great venue, in this case, Parx Casino in Bensalem. And it featured an entertaining and informative keynote address, this one from Marsha Brown, the vivacious restauratuer, she of Ruth’s Chris steakhouse fame, who followed her passion and opened a Creole eatery in a former church in New Hope, Bucks County. And, of
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course, there were numbers - lots of numbers and, better yet, lots of impressive numbers, about tourism in Bucks County. Consider these: $865 million in economic impact $116 million in state and local municipal taxes 11,474 jobs 59,000 visits to the visitors center 4,000 mobile app downloads 35,000 followers on social media hotel revenue up 4.7% That’s just for starters. So things are hopping in Bucks County and the team at Visit Bucks County works hard to spread the word. To help with that, like their counterparts downtown, they put the media and businesses together via a media panel made up of people
from TV, print and websites. The goal was simple - give the businesses some practical, actionable guidance on getting their stories covered by the media. Some of the advice was specific - the reporter from The Philadelphia Inquirer was looking for some slightly different things than the editor from Doylestown Patch, for example. But they all agreed on a few things, most notably: Establish a relationship. Just dumping a press release and saying “can you cover this?” doesn’t count. The specifics were wide and varied, but the theme was pretty clear - let’s work together. Both sides have goals and can work together if they understand each other. Judging from the numbers, it looks like we’re headed in the right direction.
25 OCTOBER 2012
WEEKLY BRIEFING DEVELOPMENT
Pa. Unemployment On The Rise Despite More Job Growth
Report: Women Make Up 12 Pct. of Philadelphia’s Top Executives Despite gains in female highest-paid executives among the 100 largest publicly traded Philadelphia companies in the 12th annual Women on Boards report released by The Forum of Executive Women, women in the boardroom still have lost ground to make up. The report, which ana-
Pennsylvania’s September job count increased by 41,100 from September 2011, according to the latest job report from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The report has the unemployment rate increasing by a tenth of a percentage point to 8.2 percent, despite twomonth job growth of 23,800 jobs. The total labor force is estimated to have risen by 130,000 since September 2011. Among the industries analyzed, education and health services saw the sharpest increases in jobs added, with the service industry in general increasing its jobs number to an all-time high of 4,912,700 in the state.
$134M Conference Center Planned for Harrah’s Resort
Blatstein Presents Casino Plans at Old Inquirer, Daily News Office Developer Bart Blatstein wants to turn the former home of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Daily News into a $700 million casino development. Mr. Blatstein was scheduled to unveil his plan for the North Broad Street site in a meeting Wednesday night. Developers have until November 15 to submit applications for Philadelphia’s second casino
license. The Foxwoods projects, which was supposed to receive the city’s second license, had its opportunity revoked in 2010, according to The Associated Press. The state gaming board announced earlier this year that it would not wait for the state government to decide whether to open bidding up statewide.
Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City will soon be the home of a $134 million conference center, Caesars Entertainment announced October 16 at a Casino Reinvestment Development Authority meeting. Don Marrandino, eastern division president for Caesars Entertainment, told The Press of Atlantic City that the venue “would be a business center,” and not draw convention attraction away from the Atlantic City Convention Center. The project is currently targeted to break ground in January and be completed by July 2014.
lyzed data from Securities and Exchange Commission filings, shows that progress for women primarily occurred between the years of 2006 and 2010, with growth slowing in 2011. Women make up less than 12 percent of top executives in the Greater Philadelphia region.
FedEx Anticipating Another Record-Breaking Holiday FedEx is expected to set another shipment record this holiday season as the trend of online shopping continues to grow. The company’s forecast, released October 22, estimates that the shipment service will handle a record-setting 280 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which would be an increase of 13 percent from the holiday 2011
season. On its busiest day this year, December 10, FedEx has predicted movement of 19 million packages, largely a result of growth in sales of electronic and apparel items. The company further cites post-holiday package returns as an added and lucrative source of traffic.
Smartphones have quickly become less of a perk and more of a norm, effectively making simple tools — like a traditional watch — relatively obsolete. Not one to be one-upped, Pebble aims to revolutionize wristwatches by connecting them to your smartphone, alerting you to new text messages, incoming emails and syncing with useful apps like pedometers to make carrying your phone during a morning jog that much less of a pain. The “smartwatch” by Pebble is compatible with iPhone and Android devices, and retails for $150. TRANSPORTATION
SEPTA Announces More Delays SEPTA has announced another delay in its laggard process of getting seven remaining rail cars, developed by South Korean manufacturer Hyundai Rotem Co. in South Philadelphia, in use for the Regional Rail line. SEPTA has currently implemented 108 of the new rail cars and has received 113. The outlying cars are to be shipped by mid-November following installation of missing parts, according to a SEPTA spokesperson. BANKS
Beneficial Opening 2 New Branches Beneficial Bank announced it has begun construction for two new branch locations in Devon and Springfield. The spaces will offer free workshops, budgeting activities for children, expert advice on financial goals, local meeting space and free Wi-Fi for bank clients.
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25 OCTOBER 2012
Philadelinquency Map Highlights Landlords Avoiding Income Taxes Based on a data analysis of 69,927 obtained rental licenses from the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections, Philadelinquency has uncovered — and laid out through a virtual map — that one out of every five tax delinquents in Philadelphia involves a landlord unwilling to pay taxes to the city on property income. To see the breakdown of where these landlords are located in the city, as well as the specific stipulations for being considered a tax delinquent, visit philadelinquency.com. EXECUTIVE BOOKSHELF
‘No Easy Day’ Unsurprisingly, the mission that struck down Osama bin Laden was “no easy day.” Writing under the pseudonym of “Mark Owen,” the former Navy SEAL tactfully unravels the events that occurred as the world-famous takedown mission transpired. Mr. Owen’s personal recollection in “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden,“ further serves as a platform for providing insight to the public on the training process of a SEAL member in addition to highlighting the harsh realities these warriors face during missions. If there’s one thing any executive can take away from the shocking blow-by-blow descriptions provided inside the pages of this book, it’s that collaborative efforts make all the difference in achieving success — on or off the battlefield. “There is no better illustration in No Easy Day that SEALs are ruthless pragmatists. They think fast. They adapt to whatever faces them. They do what they have to do.” –The New York Times
Grey Mountain Hiring Laid-Off Employees Private equity firm Grey Mountain Partners has announced that it will rehire employees laid off nearly a month ago following its acquisition of Trumbauersville, Pa.-located North American Specialty Glass, which had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Grey Mountain obtained court approval on October 15 during an emergency hearing, offering the company a sum of $1.5 million in cash and continued operations of its safety and security glass production. North American Specialty Glass laid off 95 employees after closing on September 26, filing for bankruptcy soon after with a listed $3.5 million in assets and more than $14.6 million in total debts.
Ground Broken at Navy Yard Hotel Construction of the Courtyard 172-room hotel’s construction is by Marriott, a new hotel located at expected to garner 400 jobs, with the South Philadelphia Navy Yard, 50 of those jobs being retained. The hotel is being developed by broke ground October 18. Planted on the corner of Rouse Ensemble Hotel Partners LLC, Boulevard and Intrepid Avenue in heralded by developer Louis A. the Navy Yard business park, the Cicalese. ECONOMY
Manufacturing Jobs Down Despite Improved Economy The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported an increase to 5.7 from -1.9 in its general economic index, which covers the period of October. The manufacturing growth comes as household wealth increases, providing support for manufacturing growth as consumer spending sees an uptick. By comparison, New York has seen its third-straight month of manufacturing decline. It’s not all sunshine for the Philadelphia economy, however. The manufacturing employment index decreased to -10.7 from -7.3, its lowest reading since September 2009. Additionally, the shipments index reading climbed to -0.2 from -21.2, but orders dropped to the fifth-straight contraction
Remember the Milk With Remember the Milk, users will never forget the milk — or anything else — again. It manages tasks on or offline, coordinates email and Google Calendar and allows users to share tasks with others. A free version of the app is available on the Android market and iOS. FITNESS
LA Weight Loss Closing 22 Regional Locations
in six months to -0.6 from 1 in September. Manufacturing’s general score is attributed more to optimistic sentiment among companies than actual progress.
Email business news tips to Brandon Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fitness company LA Weight Loss appears to be suffering from dwindling health, as it announced October 22 the closing of 22 locations in the Philadelphia and Harrisburg areas, effective immediately. A report from the Philadelphia Inquirer indicates the company’s closings will result in the loss of 45 jobs in Philadelphia across 16 stores. Because LA Weight Loss is a pay-as-you-go program, the company said clients of the closed facilities will not lose money from the closings. ENERGY
Penn Virgina Closes Offering Penn Virginia Corporation, of Radnor, Pa., announced October 17 that it has closed its $40 million worth of common stock offerings in addition to $115 million of depositary shares.
25 OCTOBER 2012
Unisys Revenue Down 14 pct. From Last Year
Small Business Owners Favor Romney
DuPont To Lay Off 1,500 Employees
Unisys, the Blue Bell-based IT hardware and services company announced Wednesday that revenue in the third quarter was down $877.4 million, or 14 percent compared to the previous year, according to Forbes. “After a strong first half of 2012, we saw softer services demand, particularly for short-term project work, in the third quarter,” CEO Ed Coleman said in a statement. “The lower services revenue, along with higher pension expense and debt reduction charges, impacted our results. However, we were pleased with margin improvement in our technology business, ongoing cost discipline across our company, continued improvements in service quality, and the early achievement of our 2013 debt reduction goal.”
Small business owners in Pennsylvania and across the nation support Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, according to two polls. About 86 percent of Pennsylvania business owners and C-level executives hope Gov. Romney will defeat President Obama, however 60 percent believe the incumbent will be re-elected in November, according to a ParenteBeard poll. More than 70 percent of those polled believe that Gov. Romney cares more about small businesses than President Obama. About 73 percent of those polled believe Gov. Romney is better for the economy overall, and only 11 percent
see a brighter economic future regardless of the turnout of the election. A national poll conducted by the Small Business Challenge funding competition sponsored by EarlyShares.com found that 69 percent of small business owners believe President Obama is not doing enough to support them. However, 53 percent of those polled believe that Gov. Romney will not do any better.
HONG KONG & BANGKOK
The Delaware-based chemical maker DuPont Co. will lay off 1,500 employees, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. After what the company called “a challenging quarter,” the cut equals about 2 percent of the workforce and a savings of about $450 million. Third quarter adjusted earnings dropped from 69 to 44 cents per share, and revenue for the quarter dropped 9 percent, according to the Business Journal. DuPont is in the midst of a deal with The Carlyle Group to sell its performance coatings unit, and the company said some planned job cuts are related to that deal.
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25 OCTOBER 2012
Large Law Firm Moves to 2000 Market Street
Boeing Cameras Installed Along Delaware River Bank
Philadelphia’s largest defense litigation law firm has at last moved its offices to 2000 Market Street from 1845 Walnut Street, holding an open house last week. Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin signed a 15-year lease for the space and now occupies floors 22 to 26, previously held by Arkema Inc., which moved to King of Prussia, Pa. A total of 136 lawyers and 220 support staff — roughly a third of its total employee listing of 1,000 — will occupy the space.
The law firm currently has 18 offices in six states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Florida and Ohio.
So Crepe So Crepe, which prides itself on affordable and quality French-inspired fast-food, has announced that it will open a location at 1506 South Street. The announcement comes following the company’s Philadelphia debut at Bloktoberfest on October 13.
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Visitors of the Delaware River just south of Philadelphia may have more company than they expect during their next boating outing: A Boeing Co.-designed camera system has been implemented along a 14-mile stretch of the river to ease security fears from the Coast Guard. The 24-hour surveillance, according to an announcement by Boeing, will impact three undisclosed locations on the river, located between Marcus Hook, Commodore Barry Bridge and Hog Island in Tinicum. The specific area of surveillance has, officials said, been targeted to protect five refineries on the river.
Pepperocini Italian Market and Catering will open a new location in Havertown, Pa., opening its doors Saturday, October 27. In addition to experiencing the shop’s full-service catering or specialty foods, early goers during its grand opening can enjoy a free offering of meatballs.
Margaritas Lansdale, Pa. welcomed New England-renowned Margaritas Mexican Restaurant October 23. The restaurant chain is operated by CEO Craig Colby — previously known for running franchises like Cosi and Red Robin — and President Dan Christy of Mid-Atlantic Restaurant Concepts, located in Newark, Del. Three more restaurants are expected in the region: Langhorne, Pa., Collegeville, Pa., and Wilmington, Del.
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25 OCTOBER 2012
Good Shepherd Awarded First Compliance Award
Report: Pa. College Graduates Rank High in Student Debt
Grant Will Help Finance Liberty 13 Apt. Project
The Pennsylvania Department of Health will present the Good Shepherd Penn Partners, an operator located in Allentown, Pa., and the Specialty Hospital at Rittenhouse, located at 1800 Lombard Street, with an unprecedented “Above and Beyond Award for Excellence in Health Care Compliance.” The award comes from the state following a survey that discovered a lack of health citations and major life safety code deficiencies in the 38-bed, longterm care medical center. VENTURE CAPITAL
Growing Companies Experience Best Quarter Since 2008 Growing companies received more financing in the third quarter of 2012 than in any other since the fourth quarter of 2008, according to a newly released MoneyTree report. Companies have received more than $170.4 million across 26 deals in the Greater Philadelphia region, also a high since the fourth quarter of 2008. The three-quarter combined total amounts to $363.5 million, easing woes following a less-than-stellar performance of $57.5 million invested in the second quarter. The most prominent investments were in biotechnology companies like Newtown, Pa.-based Onconova Therapeutics Inc., which received a $50 million investment. The report comes as good news following a two-day City Council hearing held earlier this month discussing the need for more capital and technologyoriented talent in the city, citing a need to restructure the business-tax structure of the city.
The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York will grant $260,000 to the Liberty Community Integration Project III to finance the Liberty 13 project, a 13-unit apartment complex catering to the needs of low-income individuals with physical disabilities in Philadelphia.
The grant, applied for by M&T Bank and serving as a slice of the $26.4 million offerings the bank will offer in 2012, is in addition to funding for the project by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.
WHO TO FOLLOW PENN STATE
A newly released report from The Institute for College Access and Success shows that graduates of Pennsylvania colleges and universities are among the highest in the nation for post-collegiate debt. The state ranks second in the country for college debt for 2011, continuing its reign as a highranking debt producer since the
report began in 2006. The average Pennsylvania student attending a public or notfor-profit college walks away with $29,959 in debt. The poor ranking is credited as being a result of dwindling financial aid from public universities, in addition to ever-increasing tuition costs.
Philadelphia Among Most Affordable for Moderate-Income Residents Though Philadelphia is considered one of the most affordable cities to live in for moderate-income residents due to low housing and transportation costs, these same residents are struggling to keep up with rising costs, according to a study released October 18 by the Center for Housing Policy in Washington and the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago. Among moderate-income homeowners, Philadelphia was named second-most affordable, being fifth-most affordable for moderate-income renters.
@Caterina Founder of Findery. Co-Founder of Flickr and Hunch “You should work from home before you go to work — I posted again on LinkedIn: http://lnkd.in/Fm54QX” — October 17, 2012
@Loic LeWeb and Seesmic founder. “the most important reason our brains insist on simulating the future instead of being here is we want2control experiences we’re about2have” — October 20, 2012
@GuyKawasaki Author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Former chief evangelist of Apple. Co-founder of Alltop. “Leadership upside down: A review of “Turn The Ship Around” http://is.gd/5Nm37w ” — October 24, 2012 CRIME
Main Line Developer Faces Federal Charges The moderate-income label is defined in the study as being between 50 and 100 percent of the median income reported in the region — or $31,921 to $63,843 per year. Housing and transportation, according to the study, rose 39 percent between 2000 and 2010, failing to keep pace with an average rise in income of 27 percent.
Michael Pouls, a Main Line developer, was charged by the federal government October 19 for allegedly manipulating banks to lend him sums upwards of $13.3 million. Mr. Pouls has been accused of devising fake statements to demonstrate a falsified existence of $28.5 million in TD Ameritrade
accounts to National Penn Bank and Wilmington Trust Bank. His actual account, federal prosecutors argue, contained only $3,000. Mr. Pouls’ attorney said his client accepted responsibility for his actions and that his intent was to save his real estate projects.
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25 OCTOBER 2012
Tastykake, Hershey Collaborate on Holiday Snacks
Two Penn Center Sold
Health System Merger Could Unite 82 Hospitals
DaVinci Group Acquired by Towers Watson
Philadelphia-based Tastykake has joined forced with The Hershey Company to create Kandy Bar Kakes for the Halloween season. Kandy Bar Kake varieties include Sâ€™Mores, made with Hersheyâ€™s Cocoa, Peanut Butter, made with Reeseâ€™s Peanut Butter and Peppermint, made with York peppermint patty flavor. The snack cakes are available in five-count individually wrapped multi-packs and 2.1-oz single serves at a suggested retail price of $1.69 for a single serve and $3.99 for a five-count multi-pack.
Two Penn Center, a 20-story, 505,000-square-foot office building at 1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd. in Philadelphia, has been bought for about $66 million after being on the market since February 2011. The property is 82 percent occupied, according to PernaFrederick Commercial Real Estate, which handles leasing there. Ownership is transferred from New York-based Crown Properties Inc., which paid $33.5 million for the property in 1997, to a partnership involving real estate investor Alex Schwartz.
BET Buys More Apartments Horsham.-based BET Investments Inc. purchased the 318-unit Curren Terrace in Norristown for $29.8 million, or $93,700 per unit, from Home Properties Inc. BET also purchased the Chesterfield apartments in Levittown, Pa. from Home Properties in September.
board has agreed that John Catholic Health East R. Swedish, president and in Newtown chief executive of Trinity, Square announced that it will retain those positions has signed a nonbinding if the merger is completed, letter of intent to merge while Judith M. Persichilli, with Trinity Health in president and chief execuMichigan to form a systive of Catholic Health tem that would include East, will become execu82 hospitals in 21 states tive vice president of the coast-to-coast. new organization. The two Catholic sysCatholic Health Eastâ€™s tems generate a combined holdings in the Philadeltotal of about $13 billion in phia region include the annual revenue and aim Mercy Health System to reach a definitive agreement in the spring of 2013. in Pennsylvania and the Terms of the deal were Lourdes Health System in not disclosed, but the New Jersey.
Human resources consulting firm Towers Watson, which is based in New York, recently announced it will acquire Yardley-based DaVinci Consulting Group, a boutique actuarial consulting firm that specializes in the long-term care insurance market. The deal is set to close November 1. DaVinciâ€™s principals and 10-member consulting staff are expected to join Towers Watsonâ€™s Life practice and to join approximately 1,000 Towers Watson employees based in the Philadelphia area, out of the companyâ€™s 14,000 total.
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25 OCTOBER 2012
Council Continues Chasing Delinquent Taxes With Latest Bill CITY COUNCIL MATTERS
Timothy Holwick is a freelance writer covering Philadelphia government. Find more coverage at citycouncilmatters. com. CONTRIBUTE Send comments, letters and essays to feedback@ regionsbusiness. com. Opinions expressed by guest writers do not necessarily reflect those of Region’s Business.
Philadelphia City Council introduced a bill October 18 that will make it possible for the city to seek legal action to collect delinquent taxes in jurisdictions other than Philadelphia. The bill was proposed by Councilman Bobby Henon on behalf of Council President Darrell Clarke, who is unable to introduce bills in his capacity as council president. Currently, the city solicitor can seek liens against property within Philadelphia in order to collect delinquent taxes. This bill would allow the solicitor, or outside attorneys contracted by the solicitor, to file legal actions in any United States jurisdiction where the delinquent taxpayer has property. In other words, Philadelphia no longer has to wait for delinquent taxpayers to respond to their notices, or continue to enforce liens against what is often worthless and abandoned property in Philadelphia. The city solicitor can find them and make them pay with assets outside of Philadelphia if this bill passes. Councilman Henon has made this bill part of his Bad Neighbor campaign, which is designed to
empower the city and its residents to enforce the laws against residents who may not be contributing to the city’s welfare. It already featured such movements as a drive to have city residents photograph troublesome properties and submit them via a smartphone application. In the case of this bill, Councilman Henon took to Twitter to say “I for one am committed to tracking down these deadbeats in my district. As of today, they’re on notice!” and “Good tax-paying citizens should not have to pick up the slack for those bad neighbors who don’t pay their taxes.” In this bill, Councilman Henon is saying that property owners with delinquent taxes are bad neighbors, whether they are living in their Philadelphia property or elsewhere. The city solicitor will be required to file an annual report that details how many actions have been filed in jurisdictions outside Philadelphia to collect delinquent taxes, the dollar amounts claimed or collected, and the costs incurred. During the last round of annual budget hearings, figures were always demanded by City Council, and the reason they seek them
Councilman Bobby Henon discovered this garbage left at an abandoned property during an October “Bad Neighbors” tour. (BOBBY HENON)
here is clear. To help justify the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) property reassessment, City Council, particularly Councilman Henon and Council President Clarke, are doing everything they can to track down delinquent taxes and make people pay. If the bill passes, City Council members certainly hope to have figures to wave around testifying to their efforts such as this bill to make everyone pay their fair share in Philadelphia. The city needs every penny it JOBS
BOARD OF ETHICS
Ethics Chairman Out, Sheller Partner Tapped As Mayor’s Replacement After six years, Richard Glazer will no longer serve as the chairman of the city Board of Ethics. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mayor Michael A. Nutter informed Mr. Glazer of his decision to nominate a new chairman during a phone conversation. Mr. Glazer announced the news at the Ethics Board’s monthly meeting October 17. Mr. Nutter nominated Brian J. McCormick Jr., a managing partner of Sheller P.C., to replace Mr. Glazer. The mayor also nominated former Superior Court Judge Phyllis Beck to continue on the board. There is another seat that remains vacant and requires approval from City Council.
can find, especially if those pennies come in the form of property taxes, as those funnel directly into the continuously financially unstable school district. The theme continues week to week: Philadelphia City Council is trying to collect taxes it is owed before attempting to enforce new taxes. As Councilman Henon said, if someone is a bad neighbor who is not paying their taxes, this bill and others like it that will likely follow, are their notice.
Philadelphia Officials Declare Support For Property Tax Bill Mayor Nutter, Council President Darrell L. Clarke, and School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos have stood together in support of House Bill 1857, which is designed to help cities assess, collect and provide relief from property taxes. Since passing October 18, the bill has been on Governor Tom Corbett’s desk. The bill aims to lessen the impact of the Actual Value Initiative, tax properties based on their market value. The trio claims the measures would bring fairness, accuracy and transparency to Philadel-
phia’s property assessment process. “This effort has been about getting the necessary authority to lower the millage rate to a level that will be determined during the budgeting process, as a result of property assessments being at 100 percent value — which will be a vast improvement from the completely broken, flawed system that the City of Philadelphia has been operating under for decades,” Mayor Nutter said in a statement.
Job Bills Under Consideration Councilman Bill Green has two bills for unemployed city residents. The first requires any business that receives more than $150,000 in service contracts or other forms of city aid to hire 50 percent Philadelphians.
The other creates a registry of potential employees for entry-level jobs with businesses under the Philadelphian quota bill. Companies would have to interview 10 people from the list before a listing of jobs is made public.
Council Reviewing Pension Reform Mayor Michael A. Nutter sent City Council a plan that would combine a lower-benefit pension with a 401(k) for the city’s elected officials. The changes would not affect current officials;
future non-union hires and select union workers would also be included. Council President Darrell Clarke told CBS he needs more time to review the proposal before a bill is introduced.
25 OCTOBER 2012
Boockvar, Fitzpatrick Talk Taxes in Debate
Demonstration Lowers Gas Price to $1.84/Gallon
In their first debate, candidates for PA-8, Republican Representative Mike Fitzpatrick and Democratic challenger Kathy Boockvar talked taxes on October 18. The debate was held by the, WNPV, a radio station in Lansdale. “We need to stop threatening to raise taxes on the American people and small businesses,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said. Fitzpatrick ”The Bush tax cuts actually added more to our deficit than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. By avoiding paying the bill then, they’re letting my 13-year-old daughter and all of our children and grandBoockvar children pay the bills later,” Ms. Boockvar countered.
Casey Endorses Boockvar Senator Bob Casey endorsed Kathy Boockvar, Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District. “Kathy Boockvar will be a leader and voice for middle class families across Bucks and Montgomery counties Casey and that’s why I’m endorsing her for Congress,” Mr. Casey said. Ms. Boockvar was “honored” to receive Mr. Casey’s support. U.S. SENATE
Rendell Criticizes Casey Campaign After former Governor Ed Rendell said Senator Bob Casey was running a “non-campaign” to the Scranton Times-Tribune, Team Casey fired back. “Casey? He hasn’t run a campaign. He’s run one ad, Rendell a stupid tea party ad,” Mr. Rendell said October 16. “The tea party ad isn’t bad, but that’s all they’ve run. They’ve run a noncampaign up until now, and Smith has put a lot of money into the campaign.” “Constructive criticism is one thing, but ignorance is something else,” Mr. Casey’s media consultant, Saul Shorr told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The conservative Americans for Prosperity lowered gas prices at Bob Walk’s Liberty Gas Station in Merion Station October 19 as part of an “Obama’s Failing Agenda” event. The reduced price — $1.84 a gallon — reflected the cost of gas before President Barack Obama took office. “President Obama’s ideologically-driven ‘green energy’ policies have made it more difficult for Pennsylvanians to fill up their tank and drive to work, get their kids to school, and enjoy their free time,” AFP-PA State Director Jennifer Stefano said.
President President Barack Obama (D): 52 Mitt Romney (R): 42 (ANGUS REID PUBLIC OPINION POLL)
Polls have given President Obama a steady lead over Republican Mitt Romney, but that lead has dwindled in the weeks after the first presidential debate. Recent polls from Gravis Marketing, the Morning Call and Quinnipiac have given the incumbent a single digit lead. The president’s lead according to Real Clear Politics is 4.8 percentage points.
PA Senate Senator Bob Casey (D): 45 Tom Smith (R): 37 The price of regular gasoline was temporarily lowered to the $1.84 October 19 at Bob Walk’s Liberty Gas Station in Merion Station as part of a demonstration by Americans for Prosperity. SUBMITTED
Governor’s Aides Given $10K Raises
Candidates Debate Courtroom Role
While much of Pennsylvania government has suffered layoffs to fit Governor Tom Corbett’s “lean” budget, four aides from his staff will receive a $10,000 pay raise, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report. Additionally, Stephen Aichele received a promotion from general counsel to chief of staff, with a pay bump included. Critics have noted that Mr. Corbett, who talked fiscal responsibility since he was inaugurated, should practice what he Corbett preaches. Due to this “fiscal responsibility,” there are 2,000 fewer positions in the executive branch, around 300 of which came from layoffs. PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT
Court: Coroners Must Release Cause, Manner by Year’s End The state Supreme Court ruled 5-1 last week that state coroners cannot withhold information about the cause and manner of deaths until after the end of each year. The Court overturned the Commonwealth Court ruling in favor of WGAL-TV, which was denied death records from the Cumberland County coroner.
State Attorney General candidates Democrat Kathleen Kane and Republican Dave Freed took to Widener Law’s Harrisburg campus Monday for their first televised debate. “The idea of...taking time away from the important duties of running an office of approximately 800 people to go in and try a criminal case in court shows the lack of experience at the top level in a prosecution office that my opponent has,” Mr. Freed said. “I don’t think it’s realistic... to put everything else aside and take that time that you need to take to prepare a case, to bring that case to the jury.” “It is an important duty to protect our children, and if in the office of attorney general, I am the most qualified child sexual abuse prosecutor, then you better believe I’ll be the one in the courtroom. ...This isn’t a managerial or bureaucratic position, and if I’m the one who is best capable of doing it, I’ll be there,” said Ms. Kane.
(THE MORNING CALL)
Though Senator Casey is holding an 8-point lead according to the Morning call, the most recent Quinnipiac poll found him to be just three percentage points ahead of his opponent. His Real Clear Politics average advantage is 6.5 points.
PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D): 40 Dave Freed (R): 28 (THE MORNING CALL AND MUHLENBERG COLLEGE)
Kathleen Kane is up from last week, when her edge was five points. Q3 FUNDRAISING PA-1: John Featherman (R): $2,875 Bob Brady (D) : $81,105 PA-2: Robert Mansfield (R): $1,925 Chaka Fattah (D): $77,410 PA-6: Manan Trivedi (D): $423,852 Jim Gerlach (R) $333,673 PA-7: George Badey (D): $179,570 Pat Meehan (R): $405,882 PA-8: Kathy Boockvar (D): $507,173 Mike Fitzpatrick (R): $575,652 PA-13: Joe Rooney (R): $38,749 Allyson Schwartz (D): $320,133
25 OCTOBER 2012
Digital Communication Essential In Today’s Political Scene
Charlie Gerow is CEO of Quantum Communications, a Harrisburg-based public relations and issue advocacy firm.
CONTRIBUTE Send comments, letters and essays to feedback@ regionsbusiness.com. Opinions expressed by guest writers do not necessarily reflect those of Region’s Business.
Earlier this year the Harrisburg Patriot-News announced it would no longer be a daily paper. Instead it is morphing into a largely digital product while maintaining some old-fashioned print. The paper, which has been published since before the Civil War, will dramatically increase 24-hour online and digital media production while bulking up content. The paper noted that, while its daily circulation is down slightly to just over 70,000, it has more than 1.5 million unique web users. The announcement was inevitable. It was a raw business decision and an acknowledgement that the industry, in its printed form, is dead. To survive, the publishers had to, as they did, change with the times. I wondered aloud if this was the first major Pennsylvania domino in a coming cascade of such moves. The Patriot-News was the first in
the state to alter its form, but not the first in the nation; papers in Seattle, Detroit, New Orleans and elsewhere had already made similar moves. It was significant, however, for a historic paper in the state’s capital to make such a dramatic move. Just a few weeks later, Newsweek announced that after 80 years it, too, would cease publication of a print edition and go to an all-digital format. More media organizations are accepting the reality that we live in a digital world and are taking steps to capitalize on the shift. With our attention focused on the approaching presidential election, it is easy to see a connection between these changes in news delivery and even more rapid changes in the way candidates deliver their messages. The world of political campaigns often leads
the media world in discovering and utilizing new ways to touch and communicate with people. Not long ago, social media shops within major political campaigns were relegated to the outer office, viewed by many inside as something of a sideshow. No longer. Both major presidential campaigns are making record use of social media and the digital world. Digital elements of the campaigns are at the core of their ability to communicate with and mobilize supporters, as well as to reach out to undecided voters. There were roughly half a million tweets in the campaign four years ago. Seven million tweets were registered during 2012’s last debate alone. More than two-thirds of social media users are regularly posting something political. The campaigns themselves are right in the middle of it.
Pushing the debate and enhancing the conversation through social media is as essential now as any element in a campaign war chest. Four years ago Barack Obama had an advantage in the digital campaign because of his mastery of the technology. He had a clear understanding of how best to use it to organize and communicate with his then-growing army of political neophyte supporters. This year the field has leveled out. Both campaigns are effectively jockeying for position in the hearts and minds of voters utilizing their digital platforms. We have moved past the debates and into the home stretch of the long campaign. The effectiveness of this increasingly vital element may well tip the delicate balance and help decide who will be the leader of the free world next January.
25 OCTOBER 2012
State Legislators Make Final Push to Send Bill to the Governor’s Desk As they approached the end of this legislative session last week, Pennsylvania lawmakers worked overtime to get their bills to Governor Tom Corbett’s desk. Any bills that didn’t make the deadline will have to be reintroduced next year. SB 1115 The amended bill changes the nature of Pennsylvania charter schools, nixing the possibility of a statewide authorizing board and provisions related to the controversial the Right-To-Know law. Instead, the bill requires charter schools to follow standardized reporting requirements. Language that would have made it easier to convert school district buildings to charter schools was also cut. The bill allows two or more charter schools to consolidate and transfer oversight to the state Department of Education. The bill also deems that all charter school entity trustees and employees fall under the Ethics Act. Also, it requires that all charter schools audit their books annually and places limitations on how much the schools can hold
in reserve bank accounts. The bill passed in the Senate October 16 but stalled in the house. HB 815 Applying to individuals between the ages of 13 and 17, the bill (sponsored by State Rep. Seth Grove) would make “sexting” or sending naked pictures via mobile devices, a criminal offense, resulting in a penalty of two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. After the bill was approved in the Senate October 17, it passed in the House later that day. HB 1548 Nicknamed the “Jon & Kate Plus 8” law by the Philadelphia Inquirer, HB 1548 limits the hours realty child stars may work a day and requires that those under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. The bill, sponsored by Representa-
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tive Thomas Murt, also requires the creations of trust accounts for the children, into which 15 percent of the child’s gross earnings must be deposited. The bill was approved last week, and Governor Corbett was expected to sign it. HB 11: This bill would privatize the wine and spirits wholesale and retail operations of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Governor Corbett’s spokesman Kevin Harley told the Pittsburgh Tribune that he will publicly lay out a plan next year. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, who sponsored the bill, said he will push it again next year. HB 2626: The bill establishes the Promoting
Employment Across Pennsylvania program, a tax incentive to encourage companies to hire in-state. For those that qualify, the program allows businesses to keep 95 percent of their employee’s personal income tax withholding (normally it would be sent to the state treasury.) To receive the full benefit, businesses would be required to stay in the state for a minimum of five year and have at least 250 hires. There would be a cap benefit of $5 million to any one employer. “Let’s not be afraid of trying something new. Traditional programs are great, but sometimes you gotta be willing to get out and try something new,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Jake Corman, a supporter of the bill, said to PAIndependent. State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff sponsored the legislation. The bill passed in the Senate and the House on October 17; it’s waiting for Governor Corbett’s approval.
25 OCTOBER 2012
NOT SCARED BY THE RECESSION When it comes to Halloweeen, local businesses have found that itâ€™s mostly treats if you know a few tricks. And itâ€™s not just for kids; from candy to cards to haunted houses to costumes - lots and lots of costumes - - Halloween is big business here.
Stories by Richard Coleman
25 OCTOBER 2012
s there such a thing as a recession-proof business? There are select groups of people in Philadelphia and its surrounding regions who will certainly make the argument that there is. Just don’t expect to have a discussion about that business in the last two weeks of October. At that point they’ll be too busy stocking shelves with costumes, masks, and props, designing and creating custom costumes, or, for folks like the employees at Eastern State Penitentiary or the Bates Motel Haunted House, finalizing sets, rehearsing and orchestrating some of the scariest attractions that garner national attention. For the businesses and organizations that relish in the Halloween profits, business is definitely booming. Since it took a colossal 18.5 percent hit in 2009, Halloween spending has been making a comeback year in and year out, according to industry and market research firm IBISWorld. In 2008, there was an 11 percent growth in spending from the previous year with $6.1 billion being spent. But in 2009, spending dropped to $4.9 billion. Any business owner in America could look at that decrease, and one word would immediately come to mind: recession. Greg Bonner, Villanova marketing professor and expert in the Philadelphia regional economy and consumer behavior, points to the effects of that recession when explaining the decrease. The economic turmoil that hit in late 2008 into 2009 meant plummeting consumer spending across the board — especially discretionary spending. But looking at Halloween spending by year from 2008 to 2011, it becomes clear that 2009 is the odd one out. In 2010, growth resumed at 2008’s level and increased 11.8 percent to $5.5 billion, but the huge change came in 2011. That year saw a walloping 30 percent increase with spending rising to $7.2 billion. Spending
on costumes, cards, candy and decorations all increased at least 25 percent (Halloween card spending grew 56 percent). And for 2012, IBISWorld projects a 10.7 percent increase and record $8 billion in Halloween spending. Mr. Bonner points to consumers’ discretionary budgets increasing, but also children likely play a large part as well. “I think one of the causes is that people want to see their kids happy,” Mr. Bonner said. “It’s kind of like a rebound effect. They say, ‘Oh, I really disappointed my kid a couple years so now I want to make sure I do it this year.’ Villanova economics professor Cheryl Carleton agreed and pointed to the rise in consumer confidence as another reason for people splurging on Halloween. “People would now like to spend on non-necessities, but may not have a lot of income to do so. Going on expensive vacations and buying a second house may be difficult. Halloween, however, is not as big an expenditure,” Ms. Carleton said. So, while it may not be recession-proof in the sense that it isn’t affected by recessions, those in the business of haunting and costuming in October certainly have enticing stats on their side. Is it enough to prompt more interest in Halloween retail and haunted house-type
attractions from budding entrepreneurs? After all, it’s a fun job and work is limited to a few months in the year, right?
From January to December Fun? Sure. Few months of work? Dead wrong. Whether it’s operating Halloween retail stores that pop-up in September and disappear in November, or running an elaborate haunted house that accounts for 80 percent of the year’s revenue, the business of Halloween is a year-round effort. And not one to be taken lightly. For instance, when a pop-up Spirit Halloween store closes its doors in November, corporate headquarters in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., are just starting a new cycle, scouting new locations for stores and developing new products being just a few of the tasks. And finding the right location for a popup store is one of the most crucial aspects for Spirit Halloween. “Much like traditional retailers, we’re looking for 8,000 square feet and above and prominent retail centers,” John Day, manager of real estate for Spirit Halloween, said. The most popular spaces are empty spaces — or “dead space” — in retail centers where a Circuit City, Best Buy, or officesupplies company may have once existed as
Six-foot tall, 300 pound gargoyles named “Frank and Carson” sit atop the 30-foot façade tower of Eastern State Penitentiary during Terror Behind the Walls, Eastern State’s massive Halloween haunted house. The gargoyle couple was designed and constructed specifically for Eastern State Penitentiary by Creative Visions in St. Louis, and the design has never been duplicated. KRYSTLE MARCELLUS
25 OCTOBER 2012
Sean Kelley of Eastern State Penitentiary said its Terror Behind the Walls attraction has 200 employees working on any given show night.
It’s Serious Business Getting a Look Like That When the fall season makes itself known in the first weeks of October, it doesn’t just mean Halloween is around the corner. It’s also indicative of the inevitable rising utility costs for heating a home and the looming costs of Christmas, which elevates to “just around the corner” status (though many may refuse to acknowledge it until after Thanksgiving). Bottom line is that a family’s bottom line can start to get bruised. For 30-year-old Gus Clark of Lansdale, the fall and winter months could have been extra stressful for him, his fiancée, and stepson, and with good reason – he was laid off from his job in May this past year. But luckily Mr. Clark was able to fall back on his main hobby, theatrical make-up, to provide some relief for him and his family. After a brief email exchange with a manager at Pennhurst Asylum in Spring City, the manager asked Mr. Clark to provide some samples of his work. Within 10 minutes of showing this man-
ager his work, he had a job doing make-up for the haunted attraction. Mr. Clark has found that, with years of experience working on his hobby, the Halloween season proves to be a fruitful one. “I do things throughout the year in the same vein, but Halloween is the best time of the year to do it,” Mr. Clark said. “The opportunity to actually do something with [theatrical make-up] is everywhere. The rest of the year you’re looking for a reason to do a project. This time of year you’re trying to decide which one you’re going to make a priority.” For those with skills in acting, make-up, set design, and other theatrical elements, there could be no better time to find fulfilling part-time work than Halloween. Though it’s technically part-time work, it certainly feels like full-time, Mr. Clark said. And that sentiment will most likely be felt by any haunted attraction during their busy season. Sean Kelley of Eastern State Penitentiary said its Terror Behind the Walls attraction has 200 employees working on any given
show night: Teams of actors and tech crew members working everything from the show itself, to concessions, merchandise, security, and the ticket office. Mr. Kelley said there are two types of seasonal employees that work Terror Behind the Walls: those that love it, and those that love the idea of doing it. “There are definitely the people who come in and they love it in theory, but when they get to the third night, they see it’s so demanding,” Mr. Kelley said. Then there are the Halloween fanatics who come back every year. Eastern State rewards these employees for their dedication: baseball cap after three years, a wristwatch after six, and a varsity jacket after 10. “While I couldn’t make a living just working at a haunt for what they pay, it really does make a difference,” Mr. Clark said. “We still have a lot of fun. We’ve got guys there who’ve been haunters almost as long as I’ve been alive. One guy in particular has been doing it for 24 years. He eats and breathes haunting.”
25 OCTOBER 2012
the power center. Halloween stores benefit from the foot traffic that’s already coming into the center for other stores. When the company finds a space that fits their criteria, they then negotiate with the landlord for a temporary lease from August to mid-November, which gives employees time to set up stores before they open in September. Instead of paying by the square footage the lease format is gross rent. “Being a temporary tenant, we establish our rent structure pretty much in the same format as any other retailer,” Mr. Day said. “We have to make sure the rent rate coincides with sales. I don’t want to pay more in rent than I do in sales. But generally, it’s pretty close to fair market value for a temporary tenant.” There are close to 1,000 Spirit Halloween Look familiar? Spirit Halloween takes up temporary residence in large retail spots across the country, from locations in the U.S. and Canada, and the Philadelphia to Austin, Texas (above). SUBMITTED Real Estate department for the company the store is corporately run or a consignscouts a majority of the locations. These day, but Mr. Osborn said so far the company stores will be run directly by the company. is doing well, even though the bulk of sales ment location. Much like typical retail job But there is a different route the com— typically occurring the week before Halapplications, it looks at an applicant through a behavioral-science scope and each applipany goes for the 300 stores that are run by loween — hasn’t happened yet. independent consignment operators. Rick It’s not just the pop-up stores that are cation is assigned a rating based on one-toOsborn, consignment operations manager, doing well. Rich Williamson, owner of four stars, Mr. Osborn said. From there, a heads up the consignment end of the busiPierre’s Costumes in Philadelphia, can attest consignment operator can pick and choose to that. In fact, the season has brought so his or her team. ness. Instead of the Real Estate department much extra work for him that the profesFor 2012, Mr. Day said, about 20 percent scouting these locations, Mr. Osborn said, are returning from the previous year. consignment operators do the heavy lifting sional costuming store — which operates “A lot of people that really love working for the company in terms of scouting and year-round and makes most of its money for Spirit Halloween are just constant, they negotiating with the landlord. In return, designing and creating specialty costumes always come back,” Mr. Day said. “They may Spirit Halloween splits the profits of sales for national-scale clients and theatrical combe a full-time employee somewhere else, but from September to October with the conpanies — becomes, more or less, a second they just love working for Spirit Halloween home for Mr. Williamson, based on how signment operator. so they come back.” much time he spends there. Sometimes he’ll “What they do is scout their marThough exact profit catch a few hours of sleep in the store overkets. They drive around, look for numbers aren’t divulged, lease signs, they know where the night, and then it’s back to business without one can gather that the shopping centers are, the malls, the a chance to go home. WE SPLIT THE pop-up store business strip plazas,” Mr. Osborn said. “What And though most of his work throughout model has been a sucthey do for us then is fill out scout PROFIT OF THE the year is done on the design and producsheets, which tell us the square foot- SALES, SO WE cess, simply because the tion of specialty costumes, like mascots for stores keep popping up companies, Halloween forces him to spend age, the address, what competition is WANT TO MAKE every season. And even additional time behind the counter in the there, send pictures.” SURE THAT though 2009 saw a big retail department, handling the influx of Corporate looks at the information customers looking for Halloween accessoand works together with the opera- OPERATOR MAKES decrease in Halloween MONEY AND WE spending, Mr. Osborn tor. If the location is viable and has ries. says 2009 was one of the the potential to make sales, the com- WANT TO MAKE “Though I’ll never really do this, I’ve often company’s best years. threatened to my managers, ‘I’m not doing pany sends the consignment opera- SURE WE MAKE Why exactly? HallowHalloween anymore.’ And they laugh at me,” tor templates for a lease and letter MONEY, TOO.’ Mr. Williamson said. “But then I tell them, of intent. Then the negotiations een fell on a Saturday. In ‘No, if I could figure out a way to not do Halbegin, Mr. Osborn said, but it’s the —RICK OSBORN 2007, Halloween fell on consignment operator at the table. SPIRIT HALLOWEEN a Wednesday, which is loween anymore, I would.’” After a lease and terms are drawn the baseline, Mr. Osborn He said it’s much easier to deal with the up, corporate does one last check to said. The closer Hallownational clients that pay top dollar for his make sure the location will work out. company’s handiwork — and the company een is to the weekend, the better. “We split the profit of the sales, so we want has done business with some big names, “For us the big to-do is a Saturday Hallowto make sure that operator makes money including design and creation of the Fruit een,” he said. “It doesn’t get any better than and we want to make sure we make money, of the Loom fruit costumes seen in comthat because you have the weekend before too. So we want to set them up for success,” Halloween party and then you’re going into mercials — than it is to deal with retail Mr. Osborn said. that Saturday Halloween party. That’s like a customers. As for finding employees, the application double bonanza for us.” But that’s not to say he doesn’t want the process is done exclusively online whether This year Halloween falls on a Wednesbusiness. After all, Pierre’s sees the biggest
BY THE NUMBERS
Tis the season
Percent of Americans who planned to celebrate Halloween last year.
Percent of Americans who planned on decorating their home or yard for Halloween.
Percent of Americans who planned on carving a pumpkin.
Percent of Americans who planned on buying a costume for themselves.
Percent of Americans who planned on taking children trick-or-treating.
Percent of Americans who planned on attending a Halloween party.
Percent of Americans who planned on visiting a haunted house. NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION
25 OCTOBER 2012
BY THE NUMBERS
Scaring up some big business
Average spent by a Halloween shopper.
Average spent on Halloween decorations, second only to Christmas.
$26.52 Average spent on a Halloween costume.
Percent of Americans who planned to costume their pet.
Amount spent on Halloween costumes for pets in 2011.
Percent of Americans who said they were going to try to spend less on Halloween.
Amount spent on Halloween candy in 2011.
Amount spent on Halloween costumes in 2011. NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION, IBIS
Halloween attractions such as The Bates Motel in Glen Mills can create work for contractors, in addition to the performers. SUBMITTED
retail spike of the year during the Halloween season. “We are crazy in the retail store. I don’t begrudge it one bit, but it takes a hell of a lot of $45 makeup sales to make up a $7,500 mascot. So, there’s a difference in economy of scale,” Mr. Williamson said. Aside from retail items and costumes for purchase, the store offers costume rentals if a customer isn’t looking to purchase a professional theatre-quality costume. Though Pierre’s offers the novelty Halloween items, Mr. Williamson said, costume rentals make the most sense, as the quality of costume is better and the customer isn’t stuck with a Halloween costume they likely won’t want to keep around. “When you’re buying cheap over renting a nice high end piece, the difference is they’re going to walk out the door 90 times out of 100 spending more money than they would have,” Mr. Williamson said. “They’ll come up to the register with $150 worth of crap. None of it is a high quality piece, but in their minds they think, ‘I’m going to keep it. I’m going to own it forever.’” And though he’d prefer to outfit his retail customers in a high-end rental for $75, he doesn’t try to discourage a sale when it’s
there. He said he doesn’t even bother trying to compete with the bigger Halloween stores, like Spirit Halloween or Halloween Adventure. “To sell the exact same products as they do doesn’t make any sense to any independent retailer,” he said. “What you have to do is differentiate yourself and be just a little different. You sell different products, you rent costumes. You private-label your own stuff, but it’s not a huge run of 10 million units.” Private labeling their own inventory is exactly what Pierre’s did when it came to branding its own line of Santa boots. In fact, a large chunk of Pierre’s business comes from Santa suits sold through its e-commerce business, PlanetSanta.com. Mr. Williamson said he’s never had an interest in the pop-up business model, and understands that his store and a store like Spirit Halloween are serving different types of consumers. “I always say more power to them. I’m sure they’re making a good living doing it. It’s not for me,” Mr. Williamson said. “It’s low-margin, low-creativity… You’re dealing with staff that aren’t highly trained, fast turnaround. Just really different issues. Here I have college-educated staff that are…
using their creative streak to do something they enjoy and take care of people.” Mr. Osborn categorizes Spirit Halloween as being in the area above retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, but below specialized shops, such as Pierre’s. “At Spirit Halloween we really don’t cater to the high-end customer who wants that really authentic looking Dracula costume. We’re kind of the mid-range store. We’re not the cheapest guys in town but we’re not the most expensive,” he said.
Payday for haunted houses The other business exclusive to Halloween is the business of scaring people live and in person. If done right it can be so lucrative that it can prompt a change in career. That’s what happened for Randy Bates, owner of Arasapha Farms in Glen Mills, in 2000. After four years of seeing success with The Bates Motel Haunted Hayride, he decided to quit his full-time job and sold his share of his security business to his partner at the time. There was no apprehension whatsoever. And today the business the haunted attraction brings to his farm makes up a
25 OCTOBER 2012
whopping 80 percent of the farm’s revenue. “It’s turned into a year-round business,” Mr. Bates said. “The money goes to the bank and we pay our bills for the following year. We’ve got four to five full-time people that start working in February on designing and building new things for the haunted attraction.” The attraction initially started as just a haunted hayride in 1991 after a nearby farmer decided to stop holding an annual haunted hayride on his property due to overwhelming demand. Seeing an opportunity to meet some of that demand, Mr. Bates gave it a shot. “We wanted to see if we could make some bucks at it, but also it was some fun for me and my friends,” he said. “Over the years it’s just taken off.” Mr. Bates also owns a 6 percent share of Pennhurst Asylum in Spring City and he’s also working with a farmer in Coatesville on opening another haunted attraction. The haunting business has certainly been a lucrative one as of late for Bates. Last season was his best yet, with a 20 percent increase in attendance from his best year in 2001. The farm also offers hayrides during the Christmas season, dropping the “Haunted” for “Holiday Hayrides.” Other than that, Mr. Bates offers farm tours and sells hay, lambs in the spring, and fresh brown eggs from the chicken farm. But clearly, the big money is in the haunting business. The idea of making a killing in business during one or two months of the year is also how Eastern State Penitentiary found success — the main difference being that Eastern State is a nonprofit museum and national historic landmark. All year round visitors can take a tour of the prison during the day, but for select nights in October, the landmark transforms into Terror Behind the Walls. The staff runs the program on site — there’s no outside production company, just seasonal actors and crew members and the full-time staff at Eastern State. “Like most museums, our daytime operations actually lose revenue,” said Sean Kelley, senior vice president and director of public programming for Eastern State Penitentiary. “Most museums that have been around a while have endowments and they live off the interest of their endowments or have other sources of revenue. In our case, the other source of revenue is almost entirely Terror Behind the
Custom-fitted costumes are a staple for Pierre’s Costumes in Philadelphia where Rich Williamson said “... I have college-educated staff that are… using their creative streak to do something they enjoy and take care of people.” SUBMITTED
Walls.” Mr. Kelley said Terror Behind the Walls has done extremely well in preservation of the landmark. For instance, it was initially tough to operate a tour at the landmark when visitors were forced to wear hard hats and sign a safety waiver. With no endowments, the museum operations had to be very primitive to even stay above water. “It was really rudimentary. I was the only full time employee and it was me and three tour guides. That was the entire staff,” he said. For the first year, the museum saw 18,000 visitors. Now, visitors for daytime tours alone are 153,000. “A lot of that is made possible by Halloween. The haunted attraction has made it possible for Eastern State to make necessary safety upgrades to the building while preserving its ruin-esque
feel, thus opening up more space and including more of the building in tours. “Terror Behind the Walls has raised more than $5 million just in preservation funds. Halloween has changed everything. It’s a complete game changer.” There’s a great deal of fun that goes into the planning and execution of Terror Behind the Walls, Mr. Kelley said. Happy hours, pizza nights, and plenty of free food help keep the staff happy, but at the end of the day it’s still challenging and often-stressful work. “We really try to have fun with it, but beneath that there’s another message we talk to our staff about which is that this is a business and it’s an extraordinarily important business,” he said. “It has to be the best.” Media outlets have taken notice. AOL City Guide named it the number
one haunted house in the U.S. and New York Times branded it as “perfect for Halloween.” This type of high national praise means the attraction brings people from all over. “Halloween enthusiasts are like roller coaster enthusiasts. They will travel, so we meet people all the time who’ve driven in from Ohio, Florida, flown in from Colorado. If you walk up and down the lines, it’ll take you 30 seconds to find someone who’s really traveled,” Mr. Kelley said. That good reputation among Halloween-enthusiasts is what helped the museum during 2008 and 2009. Mr. Kelley said he feared the museum would go out of business during the middle of the economic crisis. They were hit, he said, but not as badly as he feared. Mr. Bates and his staff felt the hit in 2009 as well — but not because of the economy. He attributes business going down to one thing in particular: bad weather. If there’s one thing farmers hate, it’s bad weather, but for a farmer who earns his keep in the haunting business? It can be devastating. “It was an extremely wet year. A lot of haunted attractions lost a lot of weekends. It’s a weather-driven industry, especially if you’re doing outdoor events like hayrides,” Mr. Bates said. “In 2009, I believe we lost three full weekends. Losing one full weekend is the equivalent of Best Buy losing a December. That’s a big hit.” His solution? Open up during the week. This has helped make up for any potential lost weekends during a season, he said. It’s no coincidence that his previous best season in 2001 was in an October that had no rain whatsoever. But even in 2009, when Bates Motel was open for business, they were jammed full of people. “It seems with this type of industry, it isn’t hit by the recession and everything else that other businesses are,” Mr. Bates said. “People still need to get out and have fun and enjoy themselves. They’re not going to travel down to Disneyland but they’re going to go travel across the county for a Halloween attraction. “Everyone says it’s a recession-proof business.” Freelance writer Richard Coleman lives in South Philadelphia.
25 OCTOBER 2012
Penn State Moves Forward As Sandusky Continues Fight RECENT EVENTS
October 23 Former Assistant Football Coach Jerry Sandusky relocated to the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill from the Centre County Correctional Facility
October 22 Penn State asked a judge to delay all legal action related to former Penn State Assistant Coach Mike McQueary’s wrongful termination suit until after the criminal proceedings for Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz are completed. Mr. McQueary, filed a suit in early October seeking $4 million from Penn State.
October 19 Aaron Fisher, who was known as Victim 1 up until this point, speaks out on ABC’s 20/20, saying that the attorney general’s office told him it would need more time before charging Sandusky with any crime.
October 18 Sandusky files a request asking a judge for a new trial based on his opinion that his lawyers did not have a sufficient amount of time to prepare for his trial.
October 9 Sandusky sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for molesting 10 boys.
Jerry Sandusky is now officially in the state prison system where, barring a new trial, he’ll likely spend the rest of his life. The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant football coach was moved to the Camp Hill prison earlier this week from the jail in Centre County, just a few miles from the university left in scandal’s wake. He’s being evaluated at Camp Hill, but will be moved this fall to a “home” prison — the specific site in which he’ll serve his 30-to-60-year sentence for molesting 10 boys. Sandusky has not yet stopped fighting, however. He filed a request last week asking a judge to overturn the conviction and grant him a new trial. He claims that his defense team had not had
sufficient time to prepare for a trial and, furthermore, the statute of limitations for some charges had expired. This request is currently being reviewed by the attorney general’s office. Meanwhile, Penn State awaits the criminal proceedings for Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz, both of whom have been charged with perjury. The university is also dealing with a wrongful termination suit filed by former assistant coach Mike McQueary, who told university officials in 2001 that he had witnessed Sandusky sexually abuse a child. Penn State has asked a judge not to approach this case until those of Mr. Curley
and Mr. Schultz have been resolved. The campus and football program, both rocked with emotion and penalties at the scandal’s public outbreak, have been moving forward without moving past. In the Big Ten, the Nittany Lions are arguably the conference’s best team going into this weekend’s contest with Ohio State. Ticket sales have remained steady (donations related to tickets reached a record high), and game attendance has remained high (though lower than normal). “As one of the football players said, ‘The higher the heat, the stronger the steel,’” athletic director Dave Joyner told Bloomberg. “The good word is that the base has been very much energized.”
‘Victim 1’ Pens Book Aaron Fisher, who had been described as ‘Victim 1’ throughout the investigation, conviction and sentencing of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, has published a book titled “Silent No More.” Most of the 220-page book is written by Mr. Fisher’s psychologist, but the content is Mr. Fisher’s own perspective on the traumatizing experience that was the sexual abuse and Sandusky’s corresponding criminal proceedings. “It’s still hard for me to talk about it. I remember when it all started and how I was just so confused,” Mr. Fisher said in the book, according to a Patriot-News review. “At the time, ‘it’ had no name. But now I know it was sexual abuse.”
25 OCTOBER 2012
MIDJERSEY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Port Authority Replaces Corbett as Chairman
Mercer Regional Chamber Changes Name, Identity in Re-Branding Effort
The board of the Delaware River Port Authority has approved David F. Simon of Gwynedd Valley to replace Governor Tom Corbett as chairman. Mr. Simon, a board member who is executive vice president and chief legal Simon officer of Jefferson Health System, was sworn in October 17. Andrew J. Reilly, a Middleton County lawyer who chairs the Republican Committee of Delaware County, has filled the open seat on the board.
Visit Bucks County Communications Manager Michelle Greco Falcon (left) helped pull together a media panel for the organizationâ€™s annual meeting, focused on helping businesses get their story covered by media. Participants include (from left) Rachel Canelli (Calkins Media), Suzette Parmley (The Philadelphia Inquirer), moderator Rod Hughes (Kimball Communications), Sarah Larson (Patch. com) and Stephanie Salvatore (FOX Philadelphia). SUBMITTED VISIT BUCKS COUNTY
Annual Meeting at Parx Features Media Panel Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency of Bucks County, held its annual meeting last week at Parx Casino in Bensalem.
Meeting highlights included a keynote address by restaurateur Marsha Brown, the presentation of annual awards and a media panel aimed at helping partners getting their businesses featured in print, online and on TV. Among the many tips provided by the panel: Establishing a relationship improves your chances of coverage.
The Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce has changed its name to the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce as part of a re-branding effort aimed at growing Central Jersey business. The chamberâ€™s new identity was developed in collaboration with the Creative Marketing Alliance. The brand rollout will continue through the end of the year and includes a website redesign, signage, member communication materials and a new logo. The new name and
Chamber President and CEO Robert D. Prunetti. SUBMITTED
brand were unveiled October 17 at a reception at the Yankee Club and Conference Center at Mercer County Waterfront Park in Trenton.
25 OCTOBER 2012
FINE ESTATES PREVIEW
Penthouse Condo Combines Luxury Living, Breathtaking Views Tremendous 3BD/2BA penthouse condo ($1,000,000) in The National with breathtaking river views, two balconies and two-car garage parking. This unit features a wide open living room, dining room and kitchen layout with a wall of windows overlooking the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge plus beautiful hardwood floors, high ceilings and a glass door to the balcony. Gorgeous custom kitchen offers maple style cabinetry, granite countertops and stainless appliances, plus an additional wine cooler and rack with coolly back-lit bar
counter. Off the hall are two bedrooms, one currently being used as an office with hardwood floors, windows and closets. Magnificent master suite complete with wood floors, multiple closets with built-ins (includes walk-in closet), small balcony with phenomenal river views, and four-piece bath with Jacuzzi-type tub, stall shower and double granite sink. Condo fee is about $917/ month [$801 for condo, and $59 for each parking spot]. Taxes for parking spot: $60 each.
For complete real estate information, call Mike McCann, of Prudential Fox and Roach, at 215-627-6005
WRIGHTSTOWN TOWNSHIP Custom home on 2.6 acres ~ Over 5,000 square feet of luxury living space ~ Amazing finished lower level ~ 3 car attached and 5 car detached garages~ $725,000
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WARWICK TOWNSHIP Car enthusiasts and hobbyists must see! Two homes and outbuildings for the price of one! Historic stone home plus Carriage/Tenant house ~ Beautiful Bank Barn ~ Corn Crib ~ 2.11 acres ~ $539,900
NEW CUSTOM CONSTRUCTION UPPER MAKEFIELD TOWNSHIP, PA 29 beautiful home sites (10 magnificent lots still to choose from) 1-2.5 acres Just 3 miles from I95 Pisani Builders Associates, Inc.
DOYLESTOWN TOWNSHIP New custom construction by Michael J Sullivan, Inc. ~ PERMITS ISSUED ~ BUILDING HAS BEGUN 1.25 acre lot ~ 3,400 square feett ~ 3 1/2 bath ~ 3 car garage. Quality amenities included ~ $599,000
Building packages starting from $1,200,000. Off-site locations also available.
DOYLESTOWN AREA Design your new home today with Lykon Custom Builders on 1.74 acre estate lot next to preserved land & open space ~ Central Bucks Schools ~ Personal attention from design to finish ~ Other lots available ~ from $649,990
25 OCTOBER 2012
Go From Engaged to Entangled
Dr. Ray Benedetto, DM, founded a consulting firm that helps leaders build highperforming, character-based cultures.
Molly Meyer is marketing professional and independent writer. She and Benedetto co-authored “It’s My Company Too! How Entangled Companies Move Beyond Employee Engagement For Remarkable Results.” More information can be found at ItsMyCompanyToo.com.
It is widely proven that employee engagement is directly linked to the profitability and sustainability of a business. Why is it, then, that—according to the Gallup Organization (which has done extensive research on the subject)—only 11 percent of all employees worldwide are engaged in their work? Shouldn’t engagement be a higher priority for business leaders? Engagement means being committed to something or someone in an organization. This commitment can be rational—seeing one’s job as serving a financial, developmental, or professional self-interest—or emotional, where one values, enjoys, or believes strongly in what one does. In either instance, however, even engagement is not always enough. There needs to be something more. Going beyond engagement. Our research revealed several companies where employees possess strong emotional attachments that have led to remarkable results and exceptional performance. Employees in these companies are more than engaged; they are entangled— where the drive for positive employee-company dedication and commitment run constantly at the deepest levels, resulting in a sustainable competitive advantage for each company. Although “entangled” sounds negative, it is an extremely strong positive force that draws people together. A key difference between engaged and entangled employees is the tension that arises from the knowledge that things can always be better. Entangled employees are never satisfied with simply being good. They want to be great, and that mentality is what affects profitability and sustainability of their respective businesses. Olympians versus college athletes. Entangled employees are like Olympians who must interlace all aspects of their lives—such as diet, sleep, exer-
ENTANGLED EMPLOYEES ARE LIKE OLYMPIANS WHO MUST INTERLACE ALL ASPECTS OF THEIR LIVES — SUCH AS DIET, SLEEP, EXERCISE, AND TRAINING — INTO A FINELY HONED DISCIPLINE.’ cise, and training—into a finely honed discipline directed toward achieving one’s personal best “gold” performance. Entangled employees’ quests for better personal and organizational performances lead to a higher plane, one where they see themselves as part of a larger organization and team members who must rely on others rather than on individual achievement alone. Entangled employees focus on making collaborative decisions that yield the best possible results for the organization. They devote their discretionary thinking toward tough organizational issues and challenges rather than self-interests. Entangled employees see the world from a much broader perspective, approaching their work with a greater understanding of how performance on each job contributes to individual, team, and organizational success, and entangled employees can be found at any level of a business. Eight critical elements. Entangled employees operate within unique cultures where eight critical elements exist. The synergy and magnetism that arise as each element strengthens become the distinctive competence that competitors cannot imitate, which leads to a unique competitive advantage.
1. Having leaders who do extraordinary things. The primacy of senior visionary, the transformative leaders who shape a performance-excellence culture, is evident in entangled cultures. Transformative leadership operates at all levels within these entangled cultures. Everyone has leadership responsibilities because of the ability to influence the actions of others through one’s behaviors. 2. Building an ethical organization. Entangled organizations have explicit core values such as respect, trust, ethical conduct, and caring that extend to all stakeholders. Daily actions reflect a meaningful pronouncement of what each organization holds dear. Trust between suppliers and customers grows each time an obligation is met and a promise is kept. 3. Focusing all the human capital. Entangled employees create world-class organizations through shared visions requiring cross-functional teamwork and elevated thinking about potential solutions. Setting and holding to cascading performance metrics—linking individual actions plans with strategic and operational goals—is a critical element for achieving unit and company success. 4. Using processes to guide
performance. The first step for understanding any organization is defining the key processes that deliver value to customers. Entangled organizations manage and improve these processes constantly. Process improvement stems from the alignment of human capital within each process. 5. Increasing individual self-efficacy. Leaders within entangled cultures focus first on the individual, building on a set of core values that respect the dignity of each person. Leaders must support the will to excel, which begins with building trust. Leaders must develop selfconfidence and esteem through personal example and constant encouragement. 6. Giving freedom and responsibility within a culture of discipline. Freedom to operate begins with clear definitions of each employee’s role and performance expectations, which helps to define one’s area of responsibility. Discipline relates to appropriate conduct in any situation, which relates to core values and desired behaviors. Freedom also means deciding how best to reach one’s goals while helping one’s organization excel. 7. Hardwiring discretionary thinking and actions. Entangled companies create the structures and behaviors that result in high employee commitment. Readily identifying errors, conducting post-mortems after every event, and fostering open discussions that lead to continuous improvements reinforce and encourage discretionary thinking. 8. Guiding the transformation process to remarkable results. Creating an entangled, world class company requires progressive and continual improvement guided by Kotter’s 8-step model for major change. Building self-efficacy and discretionary thinking requires pervasive trust rooted in relationships between and among stakeholders.
25 OCTOBER 2012
Protect Your Most Valuable Asset: Time
Kelly Ann Schaefer owns Task Complete, a personal errand and concierge service. Learn more at YourTaskComplete.com.
In his Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One, Benjamin Franklin coined the infamous phrase, “Time is money.” Over a quarter century later, this saying still rings true. Most people have heard this phrase a thousand times, but how many of us have actually stopped to think about what our time is really worth? Is it measured in dollars and cents? Or is it measured in more abstract terms such as family, memories, or happiness? However you interpret it, we all would like more time in our day. Since we haven’t yet figured out how to make a DeLorean into a time machine, I have a few simple tips on how to better manage the time we do have. First of all, you have to have a clear idea of what needs to be done in order to organize your
time. Take all the aspects of your life (work, family, leisure, etc.) and prioritize what you need to accomplish on a weekly basis. Since some things take precedent, look at each of your “tasks” and place them into one of three categories: absolutely needs to get done, would like to get done, can really wait until another time This may trim your list a little, but I’m sure there are still plenty of “needs to get done” and “would like to get done” jobs left to tackle. Next, you have to decide which of these tasks needs your personal attention. This would primarily include things such as: job requirements, family commitments, and personal leisure. You cer-
tainly can’t hire someone to go to work for you or watch your kid’s dance recital (Hmmm ... or can you?) . These are things that we simply shouldn’t trust to other people or life events that we want to experience ourselves. And be reasonable about this. While we all think we can “do it all”, you will find that there are some things that we have always assumed require a personal touch that simply don’t. Who says you have to do your own grocery shopping? Or spend hours waiting for the cable guy? There are affordable errand services readily available that can do it for you. Finally, delegate those tasks that don’t need to be done by you personally. In today’s world, we wouldn’t hesitate to hire a service to cut our lawn or paint
the house. There is a reason people are “experts” at certain things ... they can do seemingly “simple” things in a fraction of the time. Be truthful with yourself about things that you should handle on your own. Why spend four days of your life trying to learn how to tile a bathroom floor when there is someone just a phone call away that has already done it a thousand times ... and can do it in half the time? Your time is precious. Don’t waste valuable time doing things that you dislike when you can be doing things that you truly enjoy. Wouldn’t you much rather spend your weekends at the beach than pulling weeds in the garden? I know I would.
25 OCTOBER 2012
NAUTICAL JOURNEY The CEO of the Independence Seaport Museum is looking towards Philadelphia’s past and his waterfront center’s future as he focuses on family and interactive education.
What’s the elevator pitch for the Independence Seaport Museum?
I could address how this river was a road to freedom for so many different people, African-Americans to immigrants, to the American Revolution. Big, big things happened here. Or we could talk about the boat building and how we have highly skilled boat builders who do very high-end work, but at the same time teach local high school kids physics and math. Or the ships. I could go on forever about them. The Olympia (seen above) and Becuna are these windows into a world that doesn’t exist anymore. When you board them it’s like boarding an alien spacecraft.
Who is your target audience?
If a family comes in, and dad’s engaged, and mom’s engaged and the kid has something to do and isn’t tugging on them all the time — this is key — then that kid will come back in high school because he will know about the boat shop, or something like that. That’s how we’ll build an audience that goes across a wide range of ages. It’s also how we get long-term support — alumni. What’s next for the museum?
One of the things that got me to move upstairs was the desire to make the shop an education program. I had a pretty good reputation as a boat builder, but it was very diffi-
cult to get that department moving in the direction of education, partly because it was difficult to get the administration on board with it. Now the administration is on board with the idea, 100 percent. One of the things that I like about museums is that we have the real stuff...but that can be pretty boring for some people. So you need something — particularly for kids — that engages them and gets them to think about the meaning of those things. Or distracts them so the parents can have fun. Are there any exhibits that do that particularly well?
The most popular thing in the entire building for years was a little
boat sitting on a water bed, because when you stepped in it felt like you were in an actual boat in the water. And it was popular across all age groups. The first show that went up after I took over was the 1812 exhibit, and that’s why it has cannons. There’s no way it would not have cannons. What kind of outreach are you practicing to bring people to Philadelphia?
We just hosted our first City Seaport Festival. We brought boats in, and boats come from all over. This one focused on boats from the region, but all of which had been all over the place, and as we build this we would see them coming from farther and farther away.
25 OCTOBER 2012
Let’s Change Debate Format
Thomas Richard Harry is a graduate of UC Berkeley (BA) and New York University (MBA). His third book is BOOM! A Revolting Situation. Learn more at ThomasRichardHarry.com.
CONTRIBUTE Send comments, letters and essays to feedback@ regionsbusiness.com. Opinions expressed by guest writers do not necessarily reflect those of Region’s Business.
I would like to believe that overall the televised presidential debates are helpful for America’s voters. For some, no doubt they are. But for many, that’s questionable. As one acquaintance put it in an e-mail last Wednesday,” both acted like big immature babies.” At best, that’s hardly “presidential.” The obvious purpose of the debates is, or should be, to inform and emphasize the differences in the candidates’ approaches to governing; specifics as well as broader objectives for governing the Country. Watching two candidates square off and argue why their platform is better is as old as democracy itself. We certainly got some indication of this from the two debates. Unfortunately, however, much of this was either lost or at least obscured in each candidate’s attempts to discredit, imply inadequacy and/or challenge the other’s handling of the truth (or the facts). Each side comes armed with those statistics that support his side of the issue. Each says the other is mistaken, wrong, untruthful. The fact is, (as often pointed out subsequently) both are supported by the same statistics. They just use them in different ways. So what has the voting public learned from that kind of performance? Not much, in my view. The debates, in a TV format, become a kind of Marquess of Queensbury rules boxing match where each is looking to deliver a political knock-out punch-line, not a meaningful debate. But hey, in the world of “Reality TV,” that’s entertainment! In such turbulent times as America is experiencing, is that what the viewers should get? Is that all it takes to decide a presidential election: who’s the last man standing; a verbal gladiator’s victory at our version of the Roman Coliseum? Maybe. On my personal perspective of the debates, to date, I believe President Obama had a tough four years to defend. He went into his first term with some ambitious goals, few of which were realized. However most would probably agree he inherited a pretty messy situation, both domestically and globally. It’s probably not unrealistic to describe most
of those years
THE DEBATES, IN A TV FORMAT, BECOME A KIND OF MARQUESS OF QUEENSBURY RULES BOXING MATCH.’ as demanding damage control rather than producing great forward momentum. It’s sometimes difficult to remember you climbed into the swamp to drain it when you’re up to your ass in alligators, so to speak. It’s always easier to be a Monday morning quarterback than it is during the game. This is not necessarily to defend his record, simply to put it into a realistic perspective. Personally, I’m of the opinion that while some of his actions may fairly be challenged, had they not taken place, our economy and peoples’ plights might have been a great deal worse. I don’t think enough of this is brought out in the debates. I recognize it’s difficult to claim a victory for what didn’t occur, but might have. Still, I think this point hasn’t
been made effectively by or for the President. Governor Romney has had the advantage of criticizing without the burden of presidential responsibility. That’s an advantage any challenger usually has. He’s certainly not without qualifications for the office he seeks, but in the debates he has focused on Obama’s purported “failures” with little consideration for the circumstances I suggest above. That’s certainly negative politics, and a negative appeal for support. At the same time I believe he is being rightly criticized for offering governing plans and policies at an abstract level that, to date, he has not supported with much detail. Although Tuesday night, we did hear a “new figure”—at least new to my ears — of $25,000 potential limit to individual tax deductions, from which one could choose the most advantageous to claim. At least, that’s what it sounded like to me. Now, I wonder just how acceptable that would be to taxpayers who today can deduct well over half a million dollars, or more, from reportable incomes? Humm. Olympia Snow, the retiring moderate Republican Senator from Maine has said, “We’re no longer governing—everything is seen through the prism of politics.” I agree. Election differs significantly from governing. The TV debates focus on the former at the expense of the latter. Today’s televised debates deliver the wrong, or at least an inadequate, picture of the candidates’ potential to govern. How each looks, smiles, is tailored (Romney wins here, in my view) and delivers his stump-answers to the rather predictable questions are what count, and what’s remembered by much of the viewing audience. My preference would be to certainly continue the debates, but on radio, not television. That’s a more level playing field. Make your arguments gentlemen, and perhaps some day ladies, but don’t ask us to vote for you on the basis of a TV developed special purpose political personality. I want more than that to help decide which I will entrust with the Oval Office for the next four years. We need a change.
25 OCTOBER 2012
Another Homegrown Success Story Found Here in October
he sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve been enjoying are good for many things. Such weather extends the life of our patios - time for one more outdoor dinner. It makes fall athletic events just that much more enjoyable. It’s also good for those tending their gardens. It’s also good for business. Fall is big business in the Delaware Valley. That’s not necessarily news, of course. The beautiful countryside explodes with colors as fall foliage erupts. For years, that alone has drawn toursts in search of a fall getaway. Hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts across the area serve as launching points for those wishing to take in the autumnal splendor. In that regard, sunny, unseasonably warm weekends make for a very business-friendly environment. Tourists are obviously a lot less likely to spend their time and money on a weekend getaway during a bone-chilling drizzle. Then there’s the “local tourists” who are also less likely to part with their hard-earned cash on fall festivals, corn mazes, hay rides and pumpkin picking when Mother Nature frowns. Finally, there’s Halloween. Over the past several years,
local businesses have harnessed a growing national trend. From about the beginning of the century (yes, that’s just 12 years ago or so), spending on Halloween has skyrockted, fueled not by purchases of candy for trick-or-treaters, but instead on adult-themed items. In fact, Halloween is now the secondlargest commercial holiday, behind only Christmas. That’s why you see so many haunted hayrides and houses, so many seemingly too-big temporary costume stores springing up. Local businesses saw this trend and have leveraged it into a growth industry for the region. When the final tally is completed, millions will have been spent in our region on attractions, costumes, parties, events and other Halloween items. All of that is a benefit to the local economy and all of it attributed to smart, local business people who idenitified a trend and figured out how to take advantage of it. All in all, that’s a great success story and it could end there. But we would be remiss if we did not point out that this is an industry whose growth has been organic and free of any intervention or support from the federal or state government. No stimulus money or grants made this happen, just the good old American entrepreneurial spirit.
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COMMENTARY FROM ACROSS THE WEB Region’s Business combed the blogosphere, the Twittersphere and other corners of the Web for interesting commentary over the past week or so. Here’s what we found.
Stumbling on rape comments
I have no idea why men running for high office feel they need to talk about women and rape at all. If their point is they’re pro-life, why not just say so and let that stand? JOHN BAER, PHILLY.COM 24 OCTOBER
Protecting waterways protects city With all Philadelphia’s waterways officially classified as impaired, we need to use every tool we have to protect our drinking water and clean up our rivers and streams. One such tool is a development buffer around the city’s waterways.
Ms. Palin, do you have any clue that this is a racially demeaning phrase? RT @SarahPalinUSA Obama’s Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies
THOMAS BENNETT, BETHLEMEHM MCALL.COM, 24 OCTOBER
Don’t cut federal spending now Even a rudimentary understanding of economics indicates that one of the worst things we can do is cut domestic government spending during a recession. 24 OCTOBER
When I go to the polls I don’t care if Gov. Romney is a rich man or if President Obama is a black man. I care about their political character. Romney has flip-flopped all
Vice President Joe Biden, the self-described “I think I have a much higher IQ than you do” brainiac but now known as obnoxious interruptus, has done the president a great service. If Obama is replaced, which is looking good, he has someone else to blame for that.
STEPHEN E. BAKER, PENNLIVE.COM
JIM KENNEY, PHILLY.COM
Focus on character
Obama can blame Biden if/when he loses
CONTRIBUTE over the place on important issues such as health care, education and taxes. President Obama has been too conciliatory... ELEANOR GUERRIERO, PHILLYBURBS.COM, 24 OCTOBER
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25 OCTOBER 2012
BY THE NUMBERS
The cost of living for a family of four in Philadelphia according to a bi-annual study conducted by University of Washington for PathWays PA.
Americans receiving Social Security benefits.
Social Security tax on wages up to $110,000.
The estimated percentage of city residents living below that level.
Number of workers who will see their Social Security tax increase when the threshold is raised from $110,000 to $113,700 next year.
The federal poverty line for a family of four.
Average monthly Social Security payment for retired workers.
Average annual Social Security income for retired workers.
The number of times the New York Yankees have been swept in a four-game playoff series.
What someone would make if they earned the federal minium eage ($7.25 per hour) and worked 40 hours a week.
Increase in the number of Pennsylvania voters registered as independents or with third parties between 1994 and 2009. There are now more than 1 million registered voters in Pennsylvania not affiliated with either of the major parties.
Percent of the Pennsylvania vote in the 2008 presidential election that went to third party candidates. Ralph Nader had the most among that group - 0.71%, while Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney had the least. Her 38 votes accounted for less than one-one hundreth of the total.
Pennsylvanians living below the poverty level, according to the â€œOverlooked and Undercountedâ€? report.
Voter turnout in Pennsylvania for the 2008 presidential election. That was better than the 2004 presidential election, which drew 60.5% of voters
Percent of Americans who believe the result of the presidential election will have a positive impact on their paycheck, according to a NetCredit survey. About 35 percent said they believe their personal finances will remain about the same.
Percent of Americans who believe healthcare costs will increase after the presidential election according to a NetCredit survey. About 7 percent said they believe healthcare costs will go down.
The difference in 2012 payroll expense between New York Yankees than the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers swept the Yankees in the American League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
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The 25 October 2012 edition of Region's Business, a journal of business and politics for Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.
Published on Oct 25, 2012
The 25 October 2012 edition of Region's Business, a journal of business and politics for Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.