University City hits record 75,000 jobs

Friday, November 20, 2015

Originally published by the Daily Pennsylvanian

University City hits record 75,000 jobs

By PAT ZANCOLLI ・ 11/20/15 12:00pm

In the past year, University City hit a major landmark with 75,000 jobs in the area for the first time ever.

On Wednesday night, University City District, the economic development organization in West Philadelphia, celebrated this accomplishment alongside a number of others at its annual "State of University City" event at World Cafe Live at 3025 Walnut St. The evening comprised of a brief program during which UCD Executive Director Matt Bergheiser spoke about UCD's accomplishments in the past year and what they're planning for the future, followed by a reception with cocktails and networking. 

"University City has changed in many ways, and today is a celebration of those changes," Bergheiser said. "Seventy-five thousand does not just mean that that University City is producing jobs, but it means that we are producing good jobs."

Penn Executive Vice President and UCD Chairman Craig Carnaroli kicked off the evening, touching upon how this landmark is "indicative of how much we've grown."

"This shows the power of community and institutions coming together to produce results," Carnaroli said. 

The event coincided with UCD's release of The State of University City 2016, an annual publication documenting its status on development in commercial, residential and innovative fields, according to a press release. "The State of University City 2016 focuses on major news from the past year and previews the significant projects that lie ahead," the release states.

Within the past year, UCD has taken on and executed a number of projects including the revamped Porch at 30th Street Station, improvements along the Market Street Bridge and the implementation of parklets — areas with seating in parking spots throughout University City. Looking toward the future, UCD plans to recreate the 40th Street trolley portal, a $2.1 million project planned to start in 2016 and finish in 2017. 

One of the featured programs during the evening was the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative — a program that works on connecting unemployed West Philadelphians with jobs catered toward their skills and interests in West Philly. To this date, UCD has placed 91 percent of its West Philadelphia Skills Initiative graduates. 

Myna Whitney, one of the WPSI graduates featured as part of the program, was able to find employment as a medical assistant in the Drexel University medical system and pursue her bachelor's degree as a result of the program.

"Basically without it, I would not be at Drexel," Whitney said. Since becoming employed, the 23-year-old West Philadelphia native was able to buy a house in Logan, Pa., and purchase her mom a car as well. 

"University City institutions and businesses are helping to fuel the growth of Philadelphia's economy. The magnificent mix of academic, research and commercial partners in University City is leading the region — and much of the country — in the acceleration of economic activity," Bergheiser said.