Four hundred thousand Philadelphians live below the poverty line, in households of four earning less than $21,000 annually. One remedy to our city’s extreme poverty: good-paying jobs.
That was the theme of the Citizen’s inaugural Business … for Good event Monday morning, featuring Jasmine Sessoms, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Hilco Redevelopment Partners; Jerry Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust; and Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president and CEO of The Urban Affairs Coalition; and moderated by Citizen co-founder Larry Platt.
The event, sponsored by Brandywine, was the first in the ongoing series that will explore how capitalism in cities can increase growth, lessen inequality, and expand opportunity. About 50 people came out to Fitler Club, where the panelists laid out specific prescriptions for growing family-sustaining employment in Philadelphia.
“Too often when we hear about the opportunity for growth, it is not for people of color,” Matlock-Turner said. “We have to look at Philadelphia communities and neighborhoods … If you’re going to ultimately create change, you have to build trust.”
Sessoms talked about Hilco’s work transforming the former PES refinery site into the mixed-use Bellwether District, which will provide 10,000 permanent jobs in southwest Philly. “We’re building cities within cities, and people need jobs in those cities,” Sessoms said. “We need to be economic engines for those communities. It’s the right thing to do.”
And Sweeney called for change—of leadership, political structure and tax laws. “In Philadelphia, we’re so afraid of making the wrong decision, we do nothing. The opportunity cost of doing nothing is immense. There is no political courage in this city, none. So we need citizen courage to make sure we get the change we need.”
Watch the event below.
Check out photos from the event