Rob Wonderling, President & CEO of The Chamber of Greater Philadelphia joined GVF for a partner only call providing an update of the Greater Philadelphia region from an economic perspective.
Rob started by commenting on how amazed he is at the ability of our business and civic community to lend a hand and help each other. “There has been countless number of cases where small businesses have helped other small businesses during COVID-19. All sectors of our economy are helping our front line professionals as we fight COVID-19,” Wonderling added.
When it comes to restoration, recovery, and the reopening for the Greater Philadelphia region, Rob stated that first we must recognize that we have a metropolitan macroeconomic region that touches parts of three states. This is how our region is viewed for the allocation of federal dollars. So, the approach is to look at Philadelphia’s unique issues and problems that are magnified through the virus, but also how these issues reach the other parts of the region. Second, any type of program that would be a public/private effort must comply with the federal guidelines towards preserving public health and safety regarding the virus.
The focus must be on re-imagining the region post pandemic in a way that gets us back onto the road for growth. Rob talked about the verticals of the Greater Philadelphia region economy being education, medical, hospitality, destination and tourism, financial services, goods movement, logistics etc. and that we need to look at these verticals to see where they have been weakened and where there is opportunity. He went on to say that horizontals in the economy will also need to be re-imagined such as infrastructure and mobility. The choices around infrastructure and mobility will look much different post pandemic and should be a priority focus.
The second horizontal is equity. The pandemic is creating and accelerating situations of widening between different socio-economic groups. This will also need to be a focus. Rob stated that the plan is to work with c
ounty governments, the Mayor of Philadelphia to create an authorized environment, and then create a large table of stakeholders to drive reopening. Once this is underway there will be an analysis of these businesses throughout the summer. This analysis will them, hopefully, provide everyone a road map to re-imagining the Greater Philadelphia region post pandemic.
To assist businesses with reopening safely, the Chamber has been surveying its business members to gather questions they may have on the guidelines set forth by the Wolf administration. This is to provide clarification to the business community to ensure everyone opens efficiently and safely. These questions and answers will be shared with the public. When discussing best practices for companies, Rob shared insight into a call center who had moved to remote teleworking program due to COVID-19. Rob stated that the productivity of the call center had increased since employees had started working remotely and there was no absenteeism. This has motivated the company to permanently implement remote working, allowing them to use their call center building for other opportunities.
The Chamber is already working on a federal level to advocate for infrastructure and transportation funding, particularly public transit funding. But have not seen concrete plans being worked on through the Commonwealth at this time.
GVF looks forward to continuing to work with The Chamber in helping to restore, re-imagine and rebuild our economy and the transportation network.