Growing Our Economy by Selling to the World

If I told you that there's a strategy within reach for our region that could generate more than $6 billion in new economic activity every year and 35,000 additional jobs, I’d have your attention – right?


Well, with leadership from the Economy League and the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, a broad coalition of regional leaders is about to release a plan that can drive that type of growth in our region.


What can provide that kind of a boost to our economy? Helping more area firms sell their goods and services abroad and taking Greater Philadelphia’s export activity to the next level.


With $32 billion in exports originating from Greater Philadelphia each year, the region has excellent global business assets to build on. This includes area manufacturing firms that export goods ranging from medical devices to helicopters to pharmaceuticals, as well as a broad range of exporting firms in the region’s services sector.


It’s the services side that often causes people to pause. After all, cargo ships filled with electronics or agricultural products are usually what comes to mind when exports are mentioned. But services exports are a critical and growing part of our economy – whether it’s an architect working on a project in another country, an international patient seeking treatment at a US hospital, or a foreign student attending a local university. All count as services exports, which, according to Brookings Institution estimates, now account for the majority of total export value from Greater Philadelphia firms.


So how can more businesses in our region realize their export potential? What should we focus on? The Economy League and partners will provide answers to these questions on April 13th as we release the Greater Philadelphia Export Plan at a World Class business growth forum (register here). The export plan is the result of a year-long collaborative effort that brought together business leaders, state and federal trade officials, and economic development experts from across southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware to develop a customized strategy for export-led growth.


The export plan builds upon an in-depth market assessment conducted by the Economy League with assistance from Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business last year that provided an unprecedented look at Greater Philadelphia’s export economy, its strengths and weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. The plan lays out a shared goal, objectives, priority strategies, and action steps that regional economic development stakeholders can pursue to accelerate job and revenue growth via a more dynamic export economy.


I can honestly say that, in my 15-plus years working to foster growth in Greater Philadelphia, I have never been more excited about an initiative’s potential to achieve a lasting and sustainable impact on our economy. And the best part is that this work is all about helping existing small and medium-sized businesses in our region grow. While the economic development field has historically focused on business attraction and startups, this new plan offers a strategy for the bulk of firms that already are here and looking for an edge.


Join us on April 13th at WHYY for the Greater Philadelphia Export Plan launch and see how going global can mean big business for local firms and much-needed growth for our region.


Register for the Greater Philadelphia Export Plan launch event at