Talk to anyone from Montgomery County, Chester, DelCo, or Bucks, and they’ll agree: When a stranger from another state asks where they’re from, they’ll use the ol’ universal shorthand and simply reply “Philly.”
Why, then, when our region’s collective identity is so intertwined—start the E-A of an Eagles cheer, and anyone from the region will chime in on autopilot—do we not operate with a more collective mindset on initiatives like business attraction, public transportation, and private-public partnerships?
Wouldn’t it follow that, as the old adage goes, we’re all stronger together?
We posed those questions and more to Delaware County Councilmember Dr. Monica Taylor, Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence, Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell, and Philadelphia City Councilperson Derek Green, with moderating by Citizen co-founder Larry Platt and Philadelphia 3.0 Engagement Director Jon Geeting. Here, the elected leaders’ tips for how we can—and must—move forward as a team.
Fly, region, fly!
Learn from the pandemic
Covid-19 spurred cooperation and collaboration throughout the region like never before, as with Chester and Delaware Counties sharing one health department, an initiative that likely saved hundreds of lives—in addition to saving money. Maxwell and Taylor saw to the pooling of staff and resources, to marry the strengths of and fill the gaps in each of their counties. All five county leaders came together for regular calls about testing, vaccine distribution, school planning, and more. Keeping those lines of communication open long after the pandemic will be critical—and all of the leaders are eagerly embracing plans to do so.
Examples of the power of regionalism abound in the U.S. Take Allegheny County, and its Allegheny Conference, a coalition of leaders from all sectors who regularly convene and collaborate. Take Chicagoland, the umbrella term that captures the regional ethos of the midwest’s unofficial capital. Look at Silicon Valley, and its branding and banding together. Regionalism is already at work elsewhere in the country—and it’s worth holding up those models as case studies from which to glean best practices here.
Support our workforce
As old jobs become obsolete and new ones arise, it would behoove counties to come together to train and upskill workers. Central to supporting workers is strengthening our public transportation: Sure, remote work is the norm now, but the easier it is for citizens to move in and out of the city and surrounding counties for work, the more attractive the region becomes for would-be workers from elsewhere, and the more the dollars will flow.
Hold Harrisburg accountable
The southeast needs to work together—independent of party affiliations—to demand investment from Harrisburg. As Green said, “It’s really incumbent upon all of us to demand of Harrisburg that we should be getting our share of goods and services. Because we over-contribute and under-receive.”
If you missed the event, you can watch it below.
And be sure to join us at our upcoming events.