Philadelphia is not only the city of brotherly love, but also a booming place for business. According to a study, Philadelphia has the fourth highest gross domestic product (GDP) among United States cities, outranked only by New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Worldwide, Philadelphia is only below Tokyo, Paris, London, Osaka-Kobe and Mexico City, and above Washington, D.C. and Boston. Moreover, the city houses the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and several Fortune 500 companies, including cable television and internet providers, insurance companies, energy companies, food services companies, chemical manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and automotive parts retailers. The main economic sectors are manufacturing, oil refining, food processing, health care and biotechnology, tourism and financial services.
Innovation has always been the engine that drives Philadelphia-based businesses and overall economy. As a matter of fact, the city has been a pioneer in retail commerce. For example, Suburban Square in Ardmore, Montgomery County, is considered the world’s first modern shopping center. Likewise, some of the first discount stores appeared in the area at the beginning of the 60’s. Supermarkets, drug chains, department stores all soon followed suit. A testament to the innovative spirit of this city is the fact that the first advertising agency, art school and museum, cancer hospital, electronic computer, eye hospital, general hospital, fire company, fire insurance company, labor union, medical school, mint, municipal water system, pediatric hospital, penitentiary, pharmacy school, post office, public library, savings bank, stock exchange, title insurance company, university and zoo in the United States of America, all saw the light of day in Philadelphia.
Until World War II, the manufacturing and distribution sector where main foundation of Philadelphia’s economy. Recently however, computer-based businesses, finance, telecommunications, insurance companies, and the printing and publishing industries have been taking hold. The biomedical field, comprising hospitals, medical schools, pharmaceutical firms, research institutions, manufacturers of medical instruments and supplies, and medical publishing, is another business leader in 21st century Philadelphia. On the other hand, tourism has and will certainly always remain one of the city’s strongest areas, due to the diversity of historical landmarks, such as the Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial, and the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe.
In general, successful companies are attracted to Philadelphia’s location at the core of the nation’s largest market, access to transportation, availability of medical, engineering, and business schools, and the open land for industrial park development. Center City remains the financial, governmental, and cultural heart of the region. Combined efforts over the last several years by government, business leaders, and concerned citizens to improve Philadelphia’s status as a corporate host have proven fruitful, and the city marches on in its quest to become the place to live and work.