Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Are "Innovation Districts" the key to Philadelphia's growth?


Maybe, maybe not. But here is something to think about.

As the US population continues to choose cities over suburbs, the job landscape in cities is adjusting to meet that growing demand. People today want more (and better) choices for where they live their lives, choose their jobs, and enjoy their free time.

This is where Innovation Districts come in, and cities in general.

First, let's define what an Innovation District is. According to Bruce Katz at the Brookings Institution, the definition of an ID is as follows:

"A geographic area where anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect small firms, start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators. The area is physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically wired. The options for mixed-use housing, office, and retail are all present."

The two main areas in Philadelphia that meet those criteria are Center City and University City. The Navy Yard is not far behind, but it's still lacking in the housing and retail areas (although there are plans for more of that in the near future).

To redefine, isolated campuses in the suburbs that corporations have been flocking to for decades are slowly losing their appeal. Reason being, Innovation Districts are changing the model due to both the appeal of urban areas and the need for today's corporations to collaborate more.

So, I found this cool article, saying that University City was recently recognized as 1 of 7 IDs (in the entire US) that are "on the rise." Katz from Brookings was quoted as saying, "We identified seven examples in our paper of districts to watch, and University City in Philadelphia, we think, has enormous potential, only a portion of which has been realized."

Part of the reason University City was recognized was due to its accessibility to transit, its "iconic presence," and its track record of attracting start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Good news for UC and Philadelphia!

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