The State of ELGP, March 2021

The Big Picture 

As we roll out of daylight savings time and toward spring, and more importantly, toward a post-pandemic Greater Philadelphia, I am proud of where the organization is right now.  The Economy League is in solid financial shape and has carved its niche in the burgeoning post-pandemic recovery ecosystem.  We are working with the Chamber’s Recharge & Recover PHL task force, the United Way/PIDC’s efforts to support Black and brown entrepreneurship, the emerging Philadelphia Equity Alliance, and the Urban Affairs Coalition’s Ending Racism Partnership to amplify and deepen the work we are doing via PAGE to leverage institutional purchasing power to create opportunities for Black and brown-owned businesses and workers.  For more on the state and direction of PAGE, see J’nelle’s article below. 


I am incredibly impressed by the amazing Well City Challenge that Nick Frontino and Chelsey Lowe are running.  Powered by Independence Blue Cross, supported by the Knight and Philadelphia Foundations, the WCC Recruitment & Selection Committee drilled deep into every corner of the region to surface innovative approaches for dealing with the significant health challenges facing the Millennial generation. Over 100 proposals were whittled down to 15 semi-finalist teams that competed in 3 pitch events during the first week of the month.  MC’d by WURD radio’s amazing Syreeta Martin, the exciting pitch events were attended by nearly 1,000 Zoom registrants and culminated in the awarding of more than $50,000 to 5 teams, each of which now enters the accelerator phase of the Challenge.  One team will walk away from the concluding Showcase in July with at least $50,000 in seed funding.   


Our other program lines are also doing well.  GPLEX 2020’s 6-week civic solutions clinic was quite a success and Opeola is hard at work planning GPLEX 2021… fingers crossed for at least some opportunity for in-person connectivity.  Mike has been hard at work cranking out the Policy Hub newsletter, Leading Indicators, wrapping up a pandemic-delayed study of the economic impact of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, and diligently compiling data and working to build our Philadelphia Data Portal.   


Internally, thanks to leadership from Governance Committee chair Jeff Cooper, we are nearing the end of our governance restructuring process.  The Committee will be presenting its final set of recommendations to the May Management Committee meeting for creating a governance structure that is better aligned with the Economy League’s mission and goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion.  We are also pleased to report that Mike Mittelman has taken the helm of the Program Committee and is already establishing clear goals and metrics for assessing the efficacy and mission-alignment of Economy League programs.  On a bittersweet note, Finance Committee chair Chris Terlizzi will be retiring from Key Bank at the end of this month, riding off into the sunset on Maryland’s Eastern Shore – we wish him an amazing, relaxing retirement and thank him for his tireless and exemplary service to the Economy League!  But at the same time, I am pleased to report that Ed Trainor has agreed to step up to lead the FinComm.   


On the staff level, our team has coalesced beautifully, despite the fact that we’ve never all been in the same physical space.  We’ve managed to build team spirit in part through the Fresh Fridays gathering that Farwa has been managing.  Every week we combine wellness check-ins, fun group activities like sharing music, and brainstorming sessions to help program leads test new ideas.  Most of us are also participating in Empathy Labs, a six-month learning experience that will help us drive meaningful positive change in workplace diversity, racial and social equity, and inclusion.   


And finally, we are starting to contemplate work-life after COVID.  Do we want to try and sublease our office and move into a co-working space?  Do we want to keep the space at 1800 JFK and allow for some regular work-from-home days and flexibility?  We’d love to hear what your firms are planning for later this year when we’ve hopefully reached herd immunity.   


Stay safe!  Looking forward to seeing you all on Zoom on March 25 (my birthday, btw). 

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