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Guest Commentary: The Path to “Less Poor”

In response to a recent Citizen article, the area’s chambers of commerce weigh in on their joint strategy to reduce the number of Philadelphians living in poverty

In response to a recent Citizen article, the area’s chambers of commerce weigh in on their joint strategy to reduce the number of Philadelphians living in poverty

We are writing to add our voices in support of the key points made in Roxanne Patel Shepelavy’s piece “Ideas we should steal: Reducing Poverty.” In her piece, Ms. Patel Shepelavy puts her finger on one of the most important issues when developing concrete plans to attack poverty: the goal should be “less poor, not better poor.”  The business community wants to be part of the solutions to the biggest challenges facing our city, including how to best reduce poverty through inclusive, neighborhood focused growth.

As part of its long-term initiative, the PHL Neighborhood Growth Project, the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia and its partners—including the African-American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ, & DE, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and dozens of civic and business leaders from across the city—have built a new policy framework around the simple belief that the best way out of poverty is a good job and the best way to build wealth is through entrepreneurship.

The new Inclusive Growth Agenda recognizes that economic development is not the same as neighborhood development, that some communities have different needs, and the only way for the entire city to make progress is to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity. That means that improved public safety and intervention and treatment for people suffering from addiction is just as important as incentives for new businesses development, job training and expanded education opportunities. Securing the future of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and reducing the number of people who live in poverty isn’t going to be done by a single person, through a single policy or in a single year. It will take, as Ms. Patel Shepelavy notes, a multi-year commitment to comprehensive strategies.

We hope that the Inclusive Growth Agenda serves as a starting point for conversation and policy development in City Hall. It is part of the business community’s commitment to building a stronger, more inclusive economy that helps lift Philadelphians out of poverty. We are excited that Councilman Derek Green will hold City Council hearings on what an inclusive, pro-growth agenda would mean to the city, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners, the community and decision makers across the city to be part of the solution to Philadelphia’s poverty problem.

For more information, please visit phillyneighborhoodgrowthproject.com.

Rob Wonderling
President & CEO
Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia

Narasimha B. Shenoy, MS, MBA, PE
President & CEO
Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia

Jennifer Rodriguez
President & CEO
Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Pamela Henshall
President
Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

Steven Scott Bradley
African American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ, & DE

Photo via Flickr

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