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INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR Who is doing the most for innovation in the year 2013? Find out the nominees for the inaugural Marcum Innovator Of The Year Awards. The area’s top names in healthcare, technology, energy and business management innovation are represented.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
ZBA Hears Plan For 1601 Washington, Gets An Earful BY DANIEL SHURLEY Last week, the Zoning Board of Adjustment heard attorney David Orphanides’ case for a use variance that would allow his client to develop a five-story mixed-use building with parking on the triangleshaped lot at 1601 Washington Avenue in Graduate Hospital — and the board members got an earful from neighbors who would be adversely impacted by the project. For over two decades the lot has been used for parking by patrons of the pan-Asian Big 8 supermarket and mini-mall. The shopping center continues to rent the lot from its new owner. Since the lot’s outmoded I-2 zoning allows for almost anything but residential development, Orphanides’ task was to convince the board that a 40-unit, fivestory apartment building with a 3,700-square-foot ground-floor commercial space makes sense for Washington Avenue. He cited the Marine Club high-rise condominiums two blocks over at Broad and Washington, as well as the variety of commercial uses in the vicinity. He also presented aesthetic touches, such as street trees, that would make the area more pedestrianfriendly. These details were incorporated at the sug-
gestion of the South of South Neighborhood Association’s (SOSNA) architectural review committee. Graduate Hospital resident Jonathan Adler voiced his support for the project. “There is a real hunger in our community for our southern border to be more pedestrian-friendly, with more places for people to walk to, instead of just places for contractors to drive to,” he remarked, referring to the many building suppliers and showrooms with big footprints and not much foot traffic lining Washington Avenue west of Broad Street. He added that it was his sense that the near neighbors had “absolutely no interest” in manufacturing or industrial uses on Washington Avenue. A would-be commercial developer in talks with the owner expressed an interest in bringing an upscale coffee shop or restaurant to the building’s ground floor space that would be in keeping with the anticipated higher-income residents. He did not conceal his ambition to buy up as many properties on Washington Avenue as possible. Jenny Ngo, the Big 8’s manager, made an emotional plea to the board, attesting to the fact that the shopping center employs around 100 people with poor English skills who would have a hard time finding another job. Summing up the sentiment of the shopkeepers, employees and patrons of the Big 8, a
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relative of the mini-mall’s owner shouted, “They’re chasing low-income people away!” The ZBA continually reminded detractors that the developer had not been refused zoning based on building height or parking. Detractors rebuked these aspects of the plan vehemently, though they struggled to present a coherent argument against residential development on the lot. A Point Breeze resident maintained that Washington Avenue was already pedestrian-friendly. The Big 8’s owner, Hue Lem, argued that the late-night weekend noise spilling out from a catering hall inside the shopping center precluded residential uses nearby. Neighboring Chadwick Street’s block captain undermined this tack, testifying that she had received no complaints from residents about the mini-mall, noise or otherwise. A decision on the use variance was delayed pending civic design review in November. For now, patrons of the Big 8 can continue to park on the lot. A member of the zoning board advised Orphanides that his client continue renting the lot to the minimall as a good faith gesture until a decision is reached. This article was originally published at blog. philadelphiarealestate.com
17 OCTOBER 2013
City Law Firm Gains Two Labor, Employment Lawyers
Building STEAM: Philadelphia Program Uses Art To Teach Science BY LOU MANCINELLI
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney announced today the additions of Lauren Fox and Rose E. Isard as counsel and senior associate, respectively, in the firm’s Labor and Employment Section. Both were previously with Blank Rome, and both will be based in Philadelphia. “In the last month, we’ve made several additions to our Labor and Employment Section to enhance a practice that is already one of the firm’s major strengths,” said Joseph Dougherty, managing shareholder of the Philadelphia office. “We’re excited to welcome Lauren and Rose to the team and we look forward to having our clients benefit from the experience and services that they offer.” Prior to entering private practice, Fox clerked for Chief Judge Anthony J. Scirica, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She holds an AB from Brown University and a JD from University of Pennsylvania Law School. Isard served as a foreign law clerk to Justice Ayala Procaccia of the Supreme Court of Israel. She holds a BA from Cornell University and a JD from University of Pennsylvania Law School. ENERGY
D&Z Appoints VP For TVA Contract Day & Zimmermann (D&Z), a provider of construction and engineering, staffing and defense solutions, recently announced the appointment of Bill Hickman as Vice President of Nuclear Operations for its contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). In this role, Mr. Hickman will be responsible for oversight and execution of D&Z’s work at TVA’s three nuclear facilities. TVA, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for nine million people in parts of seven southeastern states. Prior to joining D&Z, Mr. Hickman spent more than four years with TVA as Vice President of Industrial Services. His industry experience also includes 10 years with Progress Energy.
In Philadelphia, a group of middle school girls is making clothes and jewelry while receiving their STEMeducation— that is science, engineering, technology and mathematics. That might seem far-fetched, but for those who saw the row of scarves that lined the wall at Esther Klein Gallery at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia and an art installation of a spiral of leaves set on the ground last Friday, it was clear how that education is being applied. Operation Eve is the work created last spring by 22 seventh- and eighth-grade girls from Grover Washington Jr. Middle School in Philadelphia through STEAM². “We’re using art as a way to introduce the girls [to STEM education],” said David Clayton, Director of STEAM initiatives at the Science Center, as well as the program manager of Breadboard, the Science Center program connected with the project that explores intersections between contemporary art, design, science and technology. It’s an arm of education that girls are traditionally less exposed to than boys. Think home-ec and woodshop. Think of Leave It To Beaver. Not being exposed to these sorts of fields is cutting girls off from a big chunk of potential. In 2012, only 18 percent of students who took the Advanced Placement Computer Science exam were female. Between 2008 and 2018, STEM-related jobs are expected to grow by 17 percent, according to the National Governors Association. In the U.S. only 6 of every 100 high schoolers choose a STEM-related major in college, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation and Business-Higher Education Forum. Through STEAM², the girls designed their own patterns for the scarves using mathematical equations. They used laser cutting technology to make the customized rubber stamps they used to embroider the scarves. To make the scarves the girls needed to know parts of geometry. Four times a week for one hour, artist Lisa Volta assisted the girls along with their teacher, Gina Griffith. For the scarves, the girls started with their own ideas and then researched old patterns on tapestries, where they also were exposed to a little history. They scanned the images onto a computer via Photoshop. Then the girls took their designs to NextFab Studio, an innovative design hub near 20th and Washington Sts., where they tinkered with laser cutters and experienced with their hands the science and technology they were learning in the classroom. In a field traditionally dominated by males, the STEAM², program, now in its second year, is a move to frame STEM-education in a way perhaps middle school girls can relate to more than rockets and computers.
Attendees of Friday’s closing reception.
The class has become so popular there’s a waiting list to get in. The project is the beginning of a long future of STEM outreach at the Science Center, according to Danielle Stollak, who recently started as STEAM Program Manager there. “It wasn’t a one-day, one-off, we-never-saw-the-girlsagain kind of thing,” said Stollak. One of Stollak’s early missions as program manager is to create a long-term vision for the STEAM program. That means things like figuring out what to do with the creations once they are completed. Might that mean teaching the students eCommerce? In the past five years STEM education has become increasingly prioritized and ushered onto the main stage of the educational dialogue across the nation, especially here in Pennsylvania. In 2010, the White House released a report that said less than one third of eighth graders in the U.S. show proficiency in mathematics and science. A year earlier, in November 2009, President Obama launched the Educate to Innovate initiative. It has thus far provided over $700 million towards improving STEM education, and has listed goals like preparing 100,000 new and effective STEM teachers by 2019. Parlay that with the creation of the Team Pennsylvania Foundation’s STEM initiative, a long-term attempt to dramatically increase the number of students entering STEM-related careers, founded in 2007, with the fact Governor Tom Corbett’s recent budget proposal puts STEM front and center in the K-12 arena, and one can see how the push to boost America’s STEM capabilities is on the rise. ar. This article was originally published on KeystoneEdge.com.
17 OCTOBER 2013
Third Ward Closes Philly, Brooklyn Locations
Record Number Companies Apply For University City Tax Credit
BY JULIANA REYES
BY JULIANA REYES
Following news of its upcoming Philadelphia classes being cancelled, 3rd Ward announced that it was officially closed, according to an email sent from 3rd Ward founder Jason Goodman and obtained by Technically Philly. Citing high costs of operation, Goodman said both Philadelphia and Brooklyn spaces closed its doors Friday, Oct. 11. 3rd Ward staff has not responded to requests for comment. Its $1.5 million fundraising campaign has been discontinued. This article was originally published in Technically Philly at Technical.ly/Philly.
Thirteen University City-based companies applied for a Keystone Innovation Zone tax credit this year, the highest number of companies to ever apply in the program’s sevenyear history, said the University City Science Center‘s Kristen Fitch, who oversees the program. Last year, three companies applied for the University City credit and more than half of the $25 million state tax credit went unused. The University City Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) awards tax credits to tech companies based in University City. Previously, only life sciences companies were eligible for the University City tax credit, but this year, the University City KIZ decided to make IT companies eligible as well. Ms. Fitch believes that’s why the number of applicant companies jumped by so much this year. The KIZ is a partnership between Drexel University,
Thomas Jefferson University, University of Pennsylvania, University of the Sciences, The Wistar Institute, BioAdvance and the Science Center. Companies can get a tax credit that equals 50 percent of the increase in their revenue since the previous year. Each company is eligible to receive up to $100,000 and can opt to sell their credits to larger companies. Last year, Apple bought $2.33 million worth of Pa. tax credits. The program has awarded more than $3 million in tax credits to 30 companies since it launched in 2006, Ms. Fitch said, adding that no companies that have applied to the University City KIZ have ever been denied the credit. Ms. Fitch declined to share the names of the companies that applied for the credit this year, since their applications are still being processed. The credits will be announced in December. This article was originally published in Technically Philly at Technical.ly/Philly.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
City Launches App To Connect Citizens With Communities The City of Philadelphia introduced a new mobile app that allows citizens to quickly find out more about neighborhoods that are part of the PhillyRising Collaborative. Core features of the app include: upcoming events like community meetings and cleanups; information about community resources; locations of neighborhood facilities such as libraries, KEYSPOTs and healthy corner stores; success stories in neighborhoods; and an open discussion forum for each neighborhood. The app’s purpose is to connect residents with their communities and provide a forum to share important information that can ultimately help improve the neighborhood. The app serves the following neighborhoods: Elmwood, Frankford, Haddington, Hartranft, Kensington, Kingsessing, Lawncrest, Market East, North Central, Penrose, Point Breeze, Southeast, St. Hugh’s, Strawberry Mansion, Swampoodle and Allegheny West. Information will be uploaded to the app by staff but individuals can also share through the app. CITY COUNCIL
Former City Councilwoman Dies Augusta Clark, the second AfricanAmerican woman elected to Philadelphia City Council died Sunday, October 13, at the age of 81, Newsworks reports. Mayor Michael Nutter, who served with Clark when he was on city council called her a unifying force. “Sometimes publically and mostly private, Gussie would let you know what you knew and what you didn’t know you would learn those lessons, and you wouldn’t make that mistake twice,” Mayor Nutter told Newsworks. Council President Darrell Clarke told Newsworks he took pride in being mistaken as Clark’s son when he first sought elected office. She is survived by a son, a daughter and four grandchildren.
A Good Year: PA Wineries May Soon Compete With State Store Monopoly BY MELISSA DANIELS Joe Greff owns Blue Mountain Vineyards, a 50-acre, 35,000-gallon producing winery along the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. Mr. Greff began selling his products in the state store system about 15 years ago, he estimates. Today, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board inventory carries about 10 Blue Mountain varietals, from Red Victoria’s Passion, a red table wine, priced at $9.99, to a 2009 Petit Syrah for $26.99. He hasn’t been allowed to sell below those price points at his Lehigh Valley tasting room, at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia or at his stores in Giant grocery stores in Willow Grove and Hershey. “It’s been a concern for me because it seems like it’s unfair to the consumer that we are restricted in that manner,” Mr. Greff said. “We may not sell that much to the state stores, but if we sell a bottle we have to conform to that regulation.” In Pennsylvania, wineries can’t sell their products for less than the PLCB sticker price, which comes with markups and taxes specific to the state-run system. But a regulatory change could soon allow wineries to compete with the state’s wine and liquor system, allowing wineries selling their products in PLCB retail stores to price them lower in their private retail operations. Stacy Kriedeman, director of external affairs for the PLCB, said in an email to PA Independent the proposed change came after hearing from Pennsylvania wineries. “Under the current regulations, a winery could not sell a bottle of wine the PLCB was selling in Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores for a different price which meant the winery would have to sell it to the PLCB for much less to account for the agencies’ mark-up and the liquor tax,” Ms. Kriedeman said. “The Board wanted to do what it could to help those in-state wineries while also providing consumers
access to some of the best wines Pennsylvania has to offer.” The PL CB carries about 150 different Pennsylvania Pennsylvania has a growing winery industry that contributes $2 billion to wines in it state the state’s economy, according to the Pennsylvania Winery Association. store system. PAINDEPENDENT.COM Throughout 2013, the PLCB has worked on a program to make Nathan Benefield is director of it easier for in-state wineries, espe- policy analysis at the Commoncially smaller ones, to get PLCB shelf wealth Foundation, a free-marspace. ket think tank leading advocacy The new program allows wines efforts for liquor privatization. He designated “PA Preferred” to place said the regulation change is in up to 10 of their wine varieties in up response to those proposals; he’s to 10 stores. At least 75 wineries in seen this kind of response from the state carry that designation, and state agencies to privatization around 43 items of PLCB’s Pennsyl- proposals before. Benefield called the price-control vania wine inventory is a result of the regulation “anti-competition,” but program. The pricing change was announced he said ideas to change such meain the Oct. 5 edition of the PA Bul- sures “only happen when there’s letin. From there begins a 30-day pressure to get rid of the entire comment period, and the board system.” In March, the House passed House could change the proposal based on any comments before the change Bill 790, a plan to sell off the 600 or so retail wine and spirit shops and the becomes final. Ms. Kriedeman said that final PLCB’s wholesale system. The Senate change is probably still a couple watered down the plan later that year of months away. Mr. Greff said he to a proposal that would retain the wasn’t familiar with the news of the wholesale operation, though discusupcoming change, but he thinks it sions are ongoing this fall. will benefit his business and consumMeanwhile, Mr. Benefield said ers. If he wants to sell 500 cases to the PLCB may continue work a restaurant, for example, Mr. Greff toward running more like a private can now offer a lower price than the business. Following failed privatiPLCB price regulation would other- zation efforts by Gov. Dick Thornwise require. burgh and Gov. Tom Ridge, the Or, if a nearby winery doesn’t sell PLCB modernized its stores and its products in the PLCB stores, Mr. offered a more upscale selection, Greff can price competitively at his Mr. Benefield said. location. “Whether it’s talking about lottery “It would help us to be able to offer privatization or eliminating the our products at a more affordable turnpike or with liquor privatizaprice,” he said. tion, their response to the privatiPennsylvania has some 250 “lim- zation is to try to make a change ited wineries” — those that produce that would make them better, allow fewer than 200,000 gallons a year more competition, or things like and can sell at up to five locations that,” he said. This article was originally pub— which could be affected by the rule change, according to PLCB esti- lished in Pennsylvania Indepenmates. dent at PAIndependent.com.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
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The best way to increase productivity and accomplish goals is to get into a routine. Daily Goals ($0.99, iOS) helps users track their daily goals and habits to better refine their routines. Daily Goals prides itself on being super simple. Simply add a task and assign it to certain days of the week. From there you can track completed tasks as they’re completed and you can get a good overview of how well you’re doing by looking at a colorful calendar and the tasks you’ve completed. This app is a great way to improve productivity at home and work.
Marathon Grill Declares Bankruptcy Foobooz reports that the Marathon Grill located at 1818 Market Street in Philadelphia declared bankruptcy last week in federal court, posting outstanding debts of close to a half million dollars. The bankruptcy does not affect the other two Marathon locations at 19th and Spruce St., and 16th and Sandsom St. According to court documents, the company filed for bankruptcy protection immediately after learning that its landlord at 1818 Market Street intended to take possession of the restaurant space due to a dispute over back rent and fees.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
Council Puts Some Tax Policy Burden on SRC
Timothy Holwick is a freelance writer covering Philadelphia government.
CONTRIBUTE Send comments, letters and essays to feedback@ regionsbusiness.com. Opinions expressed by guest writers do not necessarily reflect those of Region’s Business.
On October 10, at their weekly stated meeting, Philadelphia City Council introduced legislation that would give the Philadelphia School Reform Commission the authority to determine the fate of certain real estate tax exemptions. The Philadelphia School District is in the midst of a well-publicized financial struggle, and much of their funding comes from Philadelphia real estate taxes. The legislation specifically targets Philadelphia’s ten-year tax abatement, which has become somewhat controversial in light of the school district’s financial troubles. The tax abatement exempts owners of new property in Philadelphia from having to pay property taxes for the ten years. Much of this property tax revenue would go directly to the school district. Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. introduced the legislation as a way for the school district to have a larger say in the tax policy behind its revenue base. Since the abatement stems from the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (“LERTA”) and that legislation authorizes “each local taxing authority” to provide for
such exemptions “by ordinance or resolution,” Councilman Goode’s bill argues the School Reform Commission can be given such authority. It is important to note that the bill is not inherently designed to end the tenyear tax abatement simply by authorizing the School Reform Commission to do so.
... TO SOME EXTENT, THIS TYPE OF LEGISLATION PUTS THE PROVERBIAL BALL IN ANOTHER ENTITY’S POLITICAL COURT.’ According to the text of the legislation: “In light of ... the extraordinary fiscal crisis facing the School District, the School Reform Commission should have the opportunity and responsibility to terminate — or explicitly authorize — each of the existing tax exemptions from School District real estate taxes.
Councilman Bill Green has already stated that he does not support this legislation because he thinks it will curb new development and growth by taking away a tax abatement that encourages such development. It would also not be surprising for council members to point out how the legislation attacks the ten-year abatement through the School Reform Commission, but ultimately results in picking and choosing who may enjoy the abatement. It is likely some will agree that the tax abatement should be abolished in order to aid the struggling school district. City Council has been enduring some of the backlash on property tax reform, and to some extent this type of legislation puts the proverbial ball in another entity’s political court. As a bill, this piece of legislation does not condemn the abatement, but simply creates the policy of those depending most on tax revenue deciding who receives any exemptions. In a sense, the School Reform Commission may be offered a politically risky chance to help itself should this bill pass.
17 OCTOBER 2013
Democrats May Be Choosing The Wrong Fight
Eric Boehm is a reporter for Watchdog.org and can be reached at EBoehm@ Watchdog.org. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more. CONTRIBUTE Send comments, letters and essays to feedback@ regionsbusiness.com. Opinions expressed by guest writers do not necessarily reflect those of Region’s Business.
Democrats in Pennsylvania appear ready to make next year’s gubernatorial election a referendum on natural gas policy. But in taking a pair of extreme, untenable positions, the party may be choosing the wrong hill to fight on. A variety of Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls say they want to see higher taxes imposed on gas companies tapping into Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus shale deposits. The most welldeveloped proposal comes from U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who figures to be the frontrunner in a crowded primary field. Ms. Schwartz is calling for a 5 percent severance tax on the natural gas industry, which she says will generate some $600 million annually that she plans to use to fund schools, roads and a variety of other things. “Natural gas resources belong to the people of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanians deserve a fair deal and a lasting positive legacy for the commonwealth,” Ms. Schwartz said in announcing her plan. Two other candidates in the field — former
Department of Environmental Protection secretaries Katie McGinty and John Hanger — also have voiced support for a five percent tax on the industry. The idea of higher taxes on those nasty gas drillers will play well in the Democratic primary — particularly so with voters in the liberal southeastern corner of the state, the most important part of the Democratic base in any election. But the state party wants to go even farther. At a recent meeting, the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania officially adopted a resolution calling for a complete ban of hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” the controversial and revolutionary technique used by drillers to get at the gas trapped inside the Marcellus shale. So far, no candidates for governor have echoed the call for a moratorium on gas drilling, but the party’s embrace of the idea gives you a glimpse of how far to the left it has drifted. Though Corbett is vulnerable, the Democratic attack on natural gas companies gives him both an ally and a key message.
The ally is the gas companies themselves, who write big checks with lots of zeroes – they donated more than $1 million to Corbett’s first gubernatorial bid in 2010. But more importantly, the attack on natural gas gives Corbett a foothold that he desperately needs after months of sinking poll numbers. One of Corbett’s first web ads for the new campaign is a minute-long spot entirely dedicated to promoting his message about the 200,000 industrial jobs created by the state becoming “one of the most critical energy suppliers on the entire planet.” His campaign already is talking up the thousands of jobs created by the natural gas boom, and the $200 million reinvested in state and local governments thanks to a Corbett-backed impact fee imposed on the industry beginning in 2012. Democrats are betting most Pennsylvanians will support another round of taxes on gas companies. They may be right. But they may also help Corbett turn the attention to one of the few bright spots he can run on.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
Legislative Update BY SCOTT STARUCH
This week the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate reconvene since adjourning on October 2nd. The General Assembly were in voting session on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the House has a nonvoting session on Thursday. There are indications that Senate Bill 1 (the comprehensive transportation funding legislation that raises approximately $2.5 billion in annual funding by fiscal year 2017-18), will be taken up by the House either this week or next. Senate Bill 1 passed the Senate has already cleared the Senate by a vote of 45-5 on June 5 this year. On Tuesday, October 15th, the Senate Finance Committee held a public hearing on the Independent Fiscal Office’s report “Analysis of Proposal to Replace School Property Taxes: House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76 of 2013.” Additional Bills of note to the business community scheduled for consideration in the PA House this week include: A;*.*,%Zf^g]lma^Eh\ZeMZq>gZ[ebg`:\m A;*/2-%^lmZ[ebla^lma^IaZkfZ\^nmb\Ze
Accountability Monitoring System L;,02%dghpgZlma^ËZiheh`rÌe^`bleZmbhg%^lmZ[lishes that “benevolent gestures” made by health care providers and assisted living residences, their officers, employees and agents to a patient or resident, or their relative or representative, will be inadmissible as evidence of liability in certain circumstances (SB ,02iZll^].)&)bgma^L^gZm^bgCng^" A;,/%ikhob]bg`_hkZgZg`^ebgo^lmf^gmmZq credit Ma^k^blmh[^Z\hg\nkk^g\^ohm^hgA;*-1,% which amends the Portable Electronics Insurance Act. In the PA Senate, the calendar includes: A;-+*%Zf^g]bg`ma^Ng^fiehrf^gm<hfi^glZmbhgEZp A;*-1*%Zf^g]bg`ma^BglnkZg\^<hfiZgrEZp4 and LK0)%Zk^lhenmbhg]bk^\mbg`ma^E^`bleZmbo^ Budget and Finance Committee to study the issue of specialty tier prescription drug pricing in Pennsylvania. For more information on these bills, please visit http://www.legis.state.pa.us.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
Workplace Laws Need To Adapt To Modern Times
Rick Grimaldi and Lori Armstrong Halber are partners in the law firm of Fisher & Phillips LLP. Follow them on twitter @LoriRickHRLaw.
CONTRIBUTE Send comments, letters and essays to feedback@ regionsbusiness.com. Opinions expressed by guest writers do not necessarily reflect those of Region’s Business.
The world values innovation. Every product that is advertised is “the next big thing,” “the new” and/or “the different.” People “wait online” for the latest version of the newest technology. In business, the hot companies are touted as “innovative.” Even an industry such as manufacturing — once symbolized by smokestacks and assembly lines — has moved through innovation towards new technologies and processes. Yet, recent innovations such as Blackberry (perhaps the first modern smartphone introduced just ten years ago in 2003) quickly become obsolete. In order to remain competitive, successful businesses must evolve or go the way of the dinosaur. Consider how the workplace has evolved. We went from offices to cubicles to “open” environments. We went from snail mail to email to instant messaging. The workday has moved from nine to five to flex time to working from home and “homing” from work. In the region, companies like Seer Interactive, AGI and AWeber Communications are recognized as the region’s “coolest companies” for such innovations as free laundry and dry-
cleaning and onsite massages, oil changes and car details, monthly donations to an employee’s favorite charity, and free catered lunches, wii and Xbox gaming in a HD theater. These innovations, experts say, have allowed employers and employees to evolve where employees are happier and more productive. While these companies and others have embraced innovation, the regulatory and legal environment in which they operate has not kept pace. Federal, state and local workplace laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), and state prevailing wage laws, are woefully antiquated and have been an impediment to growth. For example, the FLSA, enacted in 1938, when most workers punched a clock, never contemplated checking work-related emails from a soccer field or at night while watching the latest movie from Netflix and now employers face an onslaught of wage and hour collective actions. The NLRA, enacted in 1935, when management and labor were often at odds and employees had few rights in the workplace, does not recognize the changes in labor management relations over the last 80 years such as new
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cooperation between organized labor and business. At the state level, Pennsylvania’s prevailing wage law mandates payment of often higher than market level wages on all public projects exceeding $25,000. The Act has not been updated since it was enacted in 1961. Without recognition that the regulatory and legislative environment must keep pace with the expected changes in the private sector, growth will be impeded and hope for a new economic boom will stall. Business leaders must remain informed and engaged in regulatory and legislative workplace issues. This column will provide a forum for such discussion.
17 OCTOBER 2013
Pennsylvania: Leading The Way To Energy Independence
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.
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the 1973 oil embargo. Following a Syrian and Egyptian attack on Israel, the United States sent military aid to Israel. In retaliation, Iran, then the world’s second largest exporter of oil, pressured fellow OPEC members to shut off supplies to the United States. We found ourselves in a supply crisis and at the mercy of gasoline prices that quadrupled practically overnight. Most of the supplying nations were folks that didn’t like us very much. The result were the great gas lines of early ‘74 and government ordered rationing of gasoline (remember the famous odd/even license plate number scheme?) As lines snaked around city blocks while people waited for their moment at the pump, Americans were also asked to lower their thermostats and leave the Christmas tree unlit. We had daylight savings time year round. This was a drastic shift for a country that for a hundred years had been essentially self sufficient in oil supplies. American oil powered us through the Industrial Revolution and helped win both World Wars. This was also not the first time oil producers around the world had shut off supplies. In 1967, several Arab states stopped exporting oil to the United States. But the U.S. was then able to import from other countries, increase domestic production and draw on strategic reserves. By 1973, production couldn’t be pushed any higher, reserves were not as well stocked, and more countries joined in the embargo. The United States had gone from leading
the world in energy production to being dependent on foreign oil delivered by its adversaries. How times have changed. In recent weeks, newspapers around the world touted the United States passing Russia to become the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas. That this
...WE HAVE CONTINUED TO GROW OUR PRODUCTION OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ELECTRICITY. AS A RESULT, GAS AND ELECTRIC COSTS HAVE COME DOWN CONSIDERABLY, USHERING IN A MANUFACTURING RENAISSANCE.’ comes at the same time that the United States also leads the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot be understated. Indeed, American technology is opening up new reserves of oil and gas and putting it to use efficiently, safely, and cleanly — and Pennsylvania is playing a huge role in
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that. The Marcellus Shale field holds more natural gas than any other area in the United States. We have trillions of cubic feet of this vital resource underneath Pennsylvania soil. The energy potential is as big as Saudi Arabia’s oil. The safe and responsible development of this precious commodity has resulted in pipeline flows reversing direction for the first time in a century. Pennsylvania is a net exporter of natural gas. On top of this is a still-vibrant coal industry, with Pennsylvania being the only state that produces valuable anthracite. There is still thriving development of Pennsylvania-grade crude oil. We are home to the second-most nuclear power plants in the country and we have abundant renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass. Pennsylvania truly has an “all-of-the-above (and below)” energy portfolio, brought about by a free market approach which allows businesses and consumers to pick where they get their gas and electric. Thanks to Gov. Tom Corbett and the state legislature’s leadership over the past few years, we have continued to grow our production of natural resources and electricity. As a result, gas and electric costs have come down considerably, ushering in a manufacturing renaissance. America is on the path to energy independence, and Pennsylvania is leading the way.
17 OCTOBER 2013
What’s Your Digital Content Strategy For 2014?
David Regn is a co-founder of Stream Companies. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Cabrini College and the Board of the HEADstrong Foundation, and is a Philadelphia 100 Hall of Fame CEO.
Have you heard the expression “Content Is King?” This tidy expression has been shouted all over the web for years now, always raising a few eyebrows in the process. But in 2012 and 2013 Google proved once and for all that this was not just some empty platitude. Through three distinct algorithm updates — the adorably titled Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird — Google rewrote the rules of the SEO game, making it that much harder for marketers to improve rankings. In one fell swoop, Google fundamentally redefined two time-tested SEO tactics: link building and quality content creation. One by one, strategies like templating item descriptions and posting in link directories were blackballed, leaving marketers wondering where to go next. When the dust settled, marketers were left with one distinct takeaway: quality content cannot be faked. Any past attempts to game the system have gone the way of the floppy disk, leaving only engaging, distinct and ever-changing site content behind. So where should you go from here? 2014 is your year to create a web experience that will help make you an industry thought leader, get your visitors where they want to go and, if you are lucky, share their experience with friends. Like any other marketing goal, getting there starts with an effective strategy. An effective content strategy needs to contain: On-Site Information: Where yesterday’s SEO strategy involved targeting keywords and stuffing them into your existing content, today’s SEO requires site admins to create new pages offering information supporting key concepts. These informational pages offer a base level of content that your site visitors will find useful on their way to making a purchase. Think of your site pages as reference guides that your customer can print out and
take with them to a local store or e-mail to a friend. Would you share your on-site content? Newsworthy Blog Content: Where your website content pages provide useful information that can act as a reference, blog content provides a steady stream of hot stories in an industry niche. If your content pages are about the science of back pain, blog posts containing backlinks might be about a new back pain study or stretching regimen. These short articles allow you the ability to create conversation, update readers on new innovations and make yourself a thought leader within your industry. Blog posts create backlinks, improve sharable content and increase site traffic. Shareable Social Media Updates: Creating a social media presence means finding content from across the web that your visitors may be interested in. By curating a wide array of diverse content loosely related to your industry — web videos, pictures, event info, contests, comments — you create a sort of trust with your potential customers. It is important to remember that most users are not on Social Media to buy something. They are there to engage with, comment on and share content that they see. Users only want to be connected with companies that are going to host interesting updates on a day-to-day basis. That means going beyond your own company to the broader interest base of your customers and colleagues, finding content that excites users so much that they can’t help but tell their friends. Picture and Video Content: The phrase “A picture is worth 1000 words” has never been truer than on social media. Infographics, memes, photos and viral videos have been statistically proven to
draw more engagement from users on blogs and social media. By adding pictures, videos and other visually stimulating content, you create a visual representation of your topic, helping further pique the interest of visitors unsure if they want to click through. By hosting the video or picture, you will not only appear in keyword searches but also in image and video searches, giving you more and more chances to make an organic search connection. E-Books / Whitepapers: For some businesses, the ratio of site traffic to sales is not nearly as high as it may be for others. For example, a company selling T-Shirts will benefit more from widespread site traffic increases than a real estate company, where customers need more than just a product description and a picture to make a purchase decision. This is where E-Books, Whitepapers and other premium content offers can help. With detailed research, charts, visual aids and other inside information, premium content offers give visitors the opportunity to access reference materials in exchange for contact information. The most effective content marketers will use blog posts and other on-site content assets to drive traffic to premium content with Call-To-Action graphics, offering readers access to exclusive content not available to the casual browser. These on-site offers create built-in lead generation that can be supported at all levels of your content strategy. By connecting these various methods into one cohesive, branded strategy with stat tracking at every level, you will create the types of effective, thought-leading, shareable pages Google is looking for. As you begin your content strategy, remember what famed Social Media Marketer Wendy Piersall once said: “Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” 2014 is the year of creating beautiful, shareable, loveable content.
17 OCTOBER 2013
FINE ESTATES PREVIEW
$1.6M Custom Estate Home In Cherry Hill Custom estate home in one of Cherry Hill’s most desirable locations, The Hunt Tract. This four bedroom, three bath home includes a grand circular drive, an exquisite foyer found in circa estates (early 1900’s), marble floors, private billiards room, study, plus nine and ten foot ceilings. The custom millwork and oak baseboards are enhanced by the craftsmanship. There are four generous suites on the second floor and the master bath will sour the bathrooms from $10 million dollar homes! The gourmet kitchen offers even the fussiest of chefs the best of everything with seating of up to 20. You will enjoy the size of the family room and study. There is so much to see and enjoy you won’t want to miss it. This home is over 5400 sq. ft. (per the owner). The three car garage is heated and will hold lots of storage also. For more information, please contact Val Nunnenkamp at (856) 810-5700
17 OCTOBER 2013
FINE ESTATES PREVIEW
$1.3M Private Farmhome In West Chester Set on an extremely quite country road this 20.28 acre horse farm is so privately located that it cannot be seen from the road. The 12-year-old five bedroom, four bath home features a grand foyer, a stunning kitchen and a large family room. Aside from the large amount of space surrounding the home, the outdoors can also be enjoyed from the roof deck and patio. The home has a spacious, fully finished lower level that includes a guest bedroom, TV and game area, and on-grade walk-out. Four bedrooms have en-suite baths. For the horses, there is a wonderful five-stall barn and several split rail fenced pastures. The potential for horseback riding from the farm is boundless and is surrounded by similar horse farms. Near Marshallton, the farm is very convenient to West Chester and major commuting routes. This property must truly be seen to be appreciated! For more information, please contact Holly Gross at (484) 678-0367
CHERRY HILL/COUNTRY WALK Gorgeous 5 BR, 5.5 bath w/3 car garage in a private, gated community. Gourmet kitchen w/custom cabinets, granite counters, HW flooring & professional appliances. FR w/built in cabinetry, wet bar & gas fireplace. 1st floor Study w/fireplace. Master Suite w/dressing area, walk in closet & marble bath. 2nd floor Laundry. Finished Basement w/full bath & separate gym area. Walking distance to houses of worship. ….Realistically priced at $839,900
CHERRY HILL Beautiful custom eclectic home on cul de sac w/4 BR. 4.5 baths & fin w/o basement. Hardwood floors, recessed lighting, 3 FPs & custom finishes t/o. Gourmet kitchen w/ custom cabinetry, granite tops, large island w/ seating & comm grade appls. Large breakfast room with views of the private back yard. Theater & 2 studies all on the main level. Master w/ cathedral ceiling, gas fireplace, walk in dressing room & custom master bath. Laundry hook up on 2nd floor or basement. Fin w/o basement w/full bathroom & sliding glass door to rear yard. ....Realistically priced at $995,000
WOODSTOWN Country Estate. 5 BR, 4.5 baths, 3 entry RV door detached garage on 35+ acres w/pond. Gourmet Kitchen w/center island, granite, custom built-ins, pantry & Brkfst Rm. Sunken LR w/ custom built-ins & wood burning FP. Custom Bar area. FR w/ wood burning FP & Palladium windows. Fin Lower Level w/ full bath, Gym, Entertaining & Office rooms. 3 zone geothermal heat/AC, sprinkler & sec. systems. Close to Rte. 55 & 295. ….Realistically priced at $1,199,000 Also for rent $6,500/month
WENONAH Magnificent Georgian Mansion on 4.7+ acres. Orig. Mahogany millwork. 10’ ceilings & HW floors. LR, DR & Music Room. 8BR, 6.5 baths & 8 working FP. Updated kitchen w/ Poggenphol cabinetry, granite & commercial grade appliances. Lg. FR, Solarium & Study. W/O lower level w/rec. areas w/bar, dance floor & gym. Pool House w/wet bar, kitchenette & locker rms. Tennis & basket-ball courts. Near Rt. 55. >30 mins. to Philly & shore points. …..Realistically priced at $1,100,000
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One of the Delaware Valley’s premier residences “Sonrisa (Smile)” is a gated Art Deco inspired masterpiece designed by Krass & Associates. Sitting on 3.4 acres and offering 14,342 square feet of stunning details designed to meet the most discerning preferences. Rarely does a home of this caliber come to market.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
RICK NUCCI: A
STARTUP LEADER Entreprenuer Rick Nucci made his mark on the startup world as founder and CTO of Boomi, a FirstMark-backed on-demand integration technology, and one of two companies that were purchased by Dell and also backed by FirstMark. Mr. Nucci is taking on a new role on December 1 when he becomes president of Philly Startup Leaders. To top it all off, he’s also in the planning stages of his next startup which will be based in Center City. Though he can’t divulge the details of his new startup, we talked to Mr. Nucci about what he’ll bring to PSL and what he thinks about innovation in Philadelphia.
What will you be bringing to the table when you take over Philly Startup Leaders as president in December? As far as specific things, it’s a little too early, but we definitely want to make sure there are solid connection points at the universities that have entrepreneurial programs in Philly, or just simply have student bodies interested in understanding what the startup scene is like in Philly. In addition, we don’t want to ever look past the community notion of PSL — it’s started by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. There has to be a constant energy, and this isn’t something that me as a president says will happen, but it’s something I want to make sure that it continues to happen. However it happens, entrepreneurs are spending quality time together — that could be really informal things like happy hours — and it’s so important to find very simple ways to foster the creation of meaningful connections in the community. What would you say is the main advantage to developing a startup in Philadelphia? The first one is hiring and recruiting. When I talk to peers that have companies in other regions, like Silicon Valley and I tell them that at Boomi the average employee [retention] time was five years, they’re blown away by that. For them it’s
like 18 months. So the quality of resource you get and the enduring relationship you can create with them by hiring and bringing them in is super exciting. The other half of that challenge is that it can be harder to find talent, though that is also getting easier. My last startup was in the suburbs, it was in Berywyn, before that Conshohocken, and when I look at the candidate pool and compare those regions to Center City Philly, there’s a huge difference. The next advantage... what’s amazing is despite all the [startup] energy residing primarily in Silicon Valley, if you look at the buyers of those solutions, there’s an amazing cluster between Boston and DC, and I don’t think anyone could argue with the advantage you have of having a proximity to customers — it’s critical when you’re starting, but just as critical when you’re a 100 million dollar company. What’s the biggest challenge for Philadelphia startups when it comes to innovation? The big three continue to be access to talent and hiring, fundraising and keeping the universities connected. When I say it’s a problem, I’m not saying that things aren’t getting done about it. But with that said, those are still the blocking and tackling problems that are top of mind for PSL and everybody. Everybody is thinking about that in these circles in Philly and everybody’s doing meaningful things to move them forward. PhillyStartupLeaders.org
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17 OCTOBER 2013
Are Pennsylvania Dems Too Optimistic?
G. Terry Madonna is director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College
Michael Young is managing partner of Michael Young Strategic Research
It’s the worst kept secret in state politics. As Pennsylvania’s 2014 gubernatorial election approaches, GOP incumbent Tom Corbett looms as the weakest incumbent in modern state history. Indeed, many independent national analysts actually consider him the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the nation. This state of things is not normal politics in the Keystone state. Far from it. Traditionally, incumbent governors running for re-election have held so many political advantages that defeating them became a hopeless, quixotic quest by the “out” party, be they Democrat or Republican. In fact, the out-party running against incumbent governors usually has had trouble even finding credible challengers. But not this election. Instead, state Democrats, inspired by Corbett’s low popularity, are lining up in unprecedented numbers to run against him. The current field of eight announced candidates includes three former cabinet secretaries, a senior congresswoman, the incumbent state treasurer, and an incumbent city mayor. Additional challengers may yet enter the fray including a former state auditor general. Not only is it a large field, but a strong one. These two factors, Corbett’s historically low support together with the strength of the Democrat’s field, convince many observers that the governor’s fate is sealed. He can’t win in 2014. Republicans should probably just start to line up the moving vans they will need when the voters banish them from Harrisburg. Maybe, but don’t bet too much on it. Predicting Corbett’s demise more than a year before election day may turn out to be like the false “reports” of Mark Twain’s death: “greatly exaggerated.” In point of fact, the past half century of state gubernatorial elections suggests next year’s race is likely to bring its share of surprises. What looks like a gathering Republican train wreck in fall of 2013 could become a close election in the fall of 2014. There are at least five compelling reasons to draw that conclusion: 1. Pennsylvania gubernatorial incumbents always win and usually win big. Pennsylvania governors have been eligible to seek reelection since Milton Shapp’s first victory in 1970. Since then each incumbent governor has sought re-election and each has succeeded. In 1974, Shapp won by 300,000
votes; Bob Casey in 1990 was re-elected by more than one million; Tom Ridge in 1998 secured his re-election victory by 27 points; and Ed Rendell coasted in 2006 by 21 points. Only Dick Thornburgh in 1982 was challenged seriously and that re-election year coincided with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Even so, Thornburgh won by 100,000 votes. 2. Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly vote against the party of the sitting president. In 18 of the last 19 gubernatorial elections, they have done exactly that. For Democrats the statistics are equally bleak. When a Democrat has been in the White House (as is the case now) the party has lost 16 of 17 gubernatorial elections back to 1860. If a Democrat does win in 2014 it will be only the second time in 154 years a Democrat has won while the Democratic Party held the White House. 3. Democrats don’t always play nice with each other. It’s likely that the Democratic primary race will turn nasty. Most contested primaries do and this one, given the stakes and expectations, almost certainly will. Well before primary day rolls around voters will be treated to an avalanche of facts, figures and charges impugning the integrity, policy positions and even personal lives of the candidates. This negative advertising will inevitably weaken the eventual nominee in the fall contest. Corbett, with no primary opponent, can watch as the Democrats in this large field proceed to attack each other. 4. Winning the Democratic primary might mean losing the General Election. In the last decade or so, Democratic voters in the populous eastern part of the state have become more liberal while the state as a whole has remained politically moderate. Consequently the typical 2014 Democratic primary voter will likely be well to the left of the average state voter. Given the current
Democratic field of mostly social liberals — pro-choice on abortion and for gay marriage — it’s plausible that liberal Democratic primary voters might push the ultimate nominee so far to the left that more moderate general election voters will not support them. 5. Money will heavily influence this election. Cash is king in Pennsylvania statewide elections and any Democrat expecting to replace Corbett will need to raise plenty of it. A hugely expensive media state, Pennsylvania’s 2014 primary will cost a minimum of $5 million to compete, probably twice that to win. And that’s just a start. The Democratic nominee must keep pace with Corbett’s own fundraising, which may reach or exceed $30 million for the general election. Corbett’s ability to raise campaign cash is a huge advantage to him. Any one of these factors should give pause to those who believe Corbett can’t win or that Democrats can’t lose. All five factors must be sobering. No doubt, Corbett is an unusually weak incumbent who can be defeated. But he still is the incumbent and to defeat him the Democratic nominee must demonstrate leadership, articulate vision and offer an alternative set of policies acceptable to voters. Right now that looks easy. The challenge for Democrats is to make sure it still looks easy a year from now.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
World-Class Status Achieved Through Customer Service
Jack Ferguson is president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In the hospitality industry, we like to say that we’re in the memory business; that is, we strive to ensure that all of our guests, whether they are convention attendees, international visitors, or event locals, have unforgettable memories when they come to Philadelphia that will keep them coming back. Those memories might include standing in Independence Hall the place where democracy was born or throwing their hands in the air atop the Art Museum steps just like “Rocky.” But a large part of those memories and impressions of our great city actually rest on the interactions that visitors have with our citizens and front-line service employees — taxi drivers, coffee shop owners and hotel and restaurant staff. For the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), customer service is more than just a buzz phrase, it is a top priority and a strategic differentiator with the power to set our city apart as we compete with other world-class destinations for business and tourists. Customer service goes beyond the traditional definition. For us, the concept entails meeting the needs of the client at every touch-point available to create a lasting positive association with Philadelphia. One opportunity we all must seize is connecting with the lucrative and burgeoning international travel market. The international travel market to the U.S. is expected to increase 23 percent by 2016 and in order to draw in Philadelphia’s share of that market we must strive as a city to equip visitors with the right tools for a first-rate experience when they land at the Philadelphia International Airport or pull into 30th Street Station. The PHLCVB has invested in translated websites and visitors guides in multiple languages to ensure that those who come here are able to experience the full depth and breadth of all we have to offer in the most convenient way possible. For our global visitors, feeling welcomed and acknowledged is vital to getting them to return to Philadelphia, but perhaps more importantly, getting them to propagate Philadelphia’s message to every corner of the globe. We possess a top-tier education network that draws advanced students from around the world. We proclaim an understanding, appreciation and celebration of the diversity of our residents, visitors and customs. Our strong historical significance; our vast cultural presence, including the major museums along the parkway and independent galleries
located throughout the city; our eclectic neighborhoods, all of these things make Philadelphia an attractive option for global travelers. As we forge ahead on the path to a world-class future we must identify and be inspired by best practices from around the globe and aspire to match, or better yet, surpass them. As the world becomes more global, the productivity of our city and our businesses will continue to be benchmarked against world standards. To that end, how we all as storytellers talk about our city — our narrative — is critical to achieving a more desirable positioning in global competitiveness rankings. When potential international visitors embark on the discovery phase of planning a trip to Philadelphia, it should be the aim of our business and civic communities to meet these customers at every touch-point available and with a consistent message. The stories of our creative spirit, our vibrant street life, our innovation and education, and everything else that defines us, should be drilled into a unified elevator pitch. On PHLpartners.com, any local entity can find the language to help sell Philadelphia. As storytellers, the more we can repeat our narrative, the faster we can continue to build Philadelphia’s image around the world, turning our message into momentum. By meeting the needs of the customer first, we can all win. We are fortunate to live and work in a forward-thinking city, led by Mayor Michael Nutter who truly understands the power of customer service as he greets major conventions, meeting planners and every day residents and visitors on the street. Providing a positive experience, which ultimately impacts perceptions of Philadelphia around the world, is why the PHLCVB invested in the online customer service training program PHL Welcomes U! Made up of a series of interactive online courses, this robust community engagement program was created to stretch beyond the hospitality industry. While there are more than 56,000 people employed in the hospitality field throughout our city, it is time we recognize that people in all industries are community ambassadors and so customer service should be a critical skill-set for everyone. We have seen firsthand the growing commitment to customer service from local organizations like the Philadelphia Parking Authority that enlisted Center City District
and the PHLCVB to speak to each class of new taxi drivers and who committed to have all taxi drivers and enforcement officers take the PHL Welcomes U! courses. Philadelphia Parks & Recreation is another city unit that understands the value of a positive customer experience and has made the program available to its staff and the public through local recreation centers. By creating PHL “Ambassadors” in every taxi, neighborhood and industry, we can all strive to create lasting impressions for visitors as well as those who live, work and play in our Modern Renaissance City. If we connect the dots, customer service boils down to stimulating our economic vitality as one of America’s largest cities. In the convention business, the concept is of paramount importance. The Pennsylvania Convention Center is the economic engine for our hospitality industry and meeting at the Center is about to become even easier with new management by SMG — the country’s best and most experienced meeting facilities managers — that are expected to fully enforce the Customer Satisfaction Agreement and make continuous improvements and cost-cutting measures. There is a real opportunity to change the conversation about conventions in Philadelphia. Our city is perfectly situated to attract increased numbers of global meetings and conventions. Meeting planners have cited our city’s ease of accessibility, which regularly helps organizations break attendance records, as a major reason for selecting Philadelphia. Convention attendees have touted the Convention Center’s location as a stone’s throw from world-class dining, diverse museums, tax-free shopping and historic landmarks as reasons they enjoyed meeting in Philadelphia. But beyond the tangible offerings, which make us the charming, edgy, innovative and loveable city that we are, delivering exceptional experiences is what leads to repeat business. The economic impact derived from the laser-like focus on client experience that comes along with partners like SMG can be far-reaching and significant beyond a meeting or convention, bringing multinational conglomerates here for potential future business. Ultimately, customer service should be the concern of every CEO in our region as it affects business outcomes and bottom lines, an ideal that will place us soundly on the trajectory toward a world-class future.
As a national ďŹ rm, we have never lost sight of our loyalty and commitment to the community in our backyard. With our deep expertise and diverse skill-set, we are able to provide the local business community with a variety of services to help them achieve success.
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17 OCTOBER 2013
OPINION LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Voter ID Ads Annoying, Wasteful, Unnecessary Pennsylvania’s ill-fated Voter ID law was not about patriotism, it was about partisanship. Opponents say it was about depressing the Democratic vote to prevent President Obama’s re-election. A top Republican state lawmaker admitted as much on video speaking before a Republican audience. Well, the law has been on the judicial shelf since last year. Commonwealth Court blocked enforcement of the ID law last year and also prevented officials from instructing poll workers to tell voters that the law would be enforced in upcoming elections. So why is the state running these ads again, adding to the confusion of an already confused situation? Running the ad now just muddies the electoral waters and confuses voters. Worse, the state is spending $1 million on the stupid commercials (on top of the $5 million it spent last year). If the Corbett administration really wants to “make a difference” on wasteful spending, it should show it by pulling the plug on this ad campaign. DELCO TIMES EDITORIAL 14 OCTOBER 2013
Want To Support The Troops? End The Shutdown “Support the troops.” After a decade-plus of war, it’s a mantra that’s embedded in the national consciousness.
The benefits paid to veterans and surviving family members are the latest casualty of the government shutdown, a bitter dispute that now seems more about maximizing the political advantage for the combatants than about solving our national problems. President Obama eased some of the burden as he signed legislation reinstating death benefits for the families of those killed in action. But his signature came grudgingly. He had earlier vowed not to sign piecemeal measures intended to stem the worst effects of the partial shutdown. The roughly $100,000 payments are typically sent out within three days of a soldiers’ death. And the freeze on the payments sparked a national firestorm. The Republican-controlled House has passed legislation exempting the VA from the shutdown. But Democrats who control the U.S. Senate have rejected a piecemeal approach to restoring federal funding, CBS News reported. In addition to potentially delaying the payments, the shutdown has also reversed the progress the VA has made on reducing its backlog of unpaid claims, which has grown by 2,000 claims since Oct. 1. While restoring funding for the VA would not immediately clear the backlog of claims, it’s still critical that the shutdown be resolved as soon as possible. If members of Congress and the Obama White House are indeed in earnest about supporting the troops, they can start by honoring the sacrifice of both those who have served and of those who have died, by ending this pointless stand-off. PENNLIVE.COM EDITORIAL 11 OCTOBER 2013
But it’s merely cosmetic when it’s compared to the nation’s duty to care for and honor our returning soldiers and the surviving family members of those who have fallen in battle.
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TD Bank Eyeing Citizens Bank, Could Mean Layoffs Philly.com reports that Canadabased TD Bank is considering paying $13 billion to the Providence, R.I.based Citizens Financial Corp. The London Times originally reported the story citing unnamed sources. Citizens’ owner, the British-government-run Royal Bank of Scotland, has said it is seeking a minority investor but has not confirmed any outright sale. According to Joseph DiStefano from Philly.com, a TD-Citizens combination would likely result in branch closings and layoffs in the Philadelphia area, where TD owns
what used to be Commerce Bank, and Citizens includes Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, which combines the former Girard and PSFS. “Merged competitors typically pick the more successful branch in each suburb or neighborhood, and shut the other. An out-of-market owner, by contrast, would be more likely to keep local offices running,” DiStefano writes. The combined company would rival Wells Fargo & Co. (ex-PNB, Philly National, Meridian, etc.) as the region’s dominant branch bank and lender.
Reminds me, isn’t it time to rename Wells Fargo Ctr?
If TD Bank buys Citizens would the Phillies’ park be TD Bank Park. If so, that would be weird because TD means touchdown, a football term.
14 OCTOBER 2013
14 OCTOBER 2013
$15 fee every time the Phillies dip below .500 14 OCTOBER 2013
@CitizensBank def about to close my account now 14 OCTOBER 2013
@MetsFanInPhilly hmmm...maybe #Phillies will play at TD BANK PARK soon 14 OCTOBER 2013
@alibabagcfr #BePrepared some guy worked with my wife in citizen’s bank. resigned in anticipation of another job.
@headiebean @TDBank_US Can’t wait until you buy Citizens Bank! You’re going get even crappier! YAY MEGA BANK! YAY! Thanks for killing Commerce !!! 14 OCTOBER 2013
14 OCTOBER 2013
@brendancalling watch out #citizensbank customers, @TDBank_US is gunning for you. 15 OCTOBER 2013
17 OCTOBER 2013
BY THE NUMBERS
Fast food cooks, cashiers and frontline staff that rely on at least one form of public assistance, according to a study from University of California-Berkeley and University of Illinois
Cost to taxpayers each year in public assistance because the workers do not make enough to pay for basic necessities themselves, according to the prolabor National Employment Law Project
Blame the GOP for the government shutdown, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll
Blame President Barack Obama for the government shutdown
$200,000,000,000 Sales that the US fast food industry generates per year
Median age of a fast food worker, according to a NELP study
Median wage for a frontline fast food worker, according to NELPâ€™s analysis of government data
Democrats said their most important voting issue making sure every individual who has the right to vote is allowed to exercise that right, according to a Bipartisan Policy Center/ USA Today poll
Republicans said their most important voting issue was making sure no one commits voter fraud and harms the rights of legitimate voters
Overall (Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Other) voters who think Independents should vote in political primaries, according to a Bipartisan Policy Center/ USA Today poll
Respondents who have a favorable view of the GOP
47% Respondents who prefer a Democratic-controlled congress
Overall voters who believe voters should show photo ID at the voting booth
39% Respondents who prefer a Republican-controlled congress
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