Innovation Philadelphia hosted monthly Innovation Forums, designed to develop valuable ideas for shaping the future of the Philadelphia Region. Participants focused on assets, challenges, and issues relevant to young professionals, entrepreneurs, college students, and members of the Creative Economy. These Forums encouraged responsible risk-taking and advanced an honest, objective dialogue necessary to producing change and sustained growth in the region. IP strategically acted on the ideas generated at these forums through research, collaboration, and the implementation of new initiatives.
Future Forums were planned to focus on members of the Creative Economy, young professionals, international business development, and entrepreneurs and were scheduled to be held throughout the region in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Northern Delaware, and Southern New Jersey. Businesses and organizations in the region could host an Innovation Forum, and interested individuals were invited to contact IP for more information.
On February 26, 2007 IP hosted its first Innovation Forum, held at the Cira Centre next to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, in the newly-opened Hub facility. Approximately 20 young professionals from non-profit economic development organizations in Philadelphia met to discuss two main questions: 1. What would it take to make living in Philadelphia a better experience? 2. If one could have only one point on which to sell people on Philadelphia, what would it be?
The discussion surrounding these questions was lively and enlightening, with participants sharing many attributes of Philadelphia that they believed made the city unique and livable. The conversation progressed into developing ideas that could make Philadelphia even more appealing to new and potential residents. Topics ranged from education to neighborhoods and Philadelphia’s identity, to the transit system and general information about Philadelphia. Throughout the evening four main issues were repeatedly raised and became central to the discussion:
1. Access to Information – Both new and old residents felt that a centrally located source of information about neighborhoods, social activities, transportation, and customer service would make living in the region more manageable. 2. Infrastructure – Another major concern for this group of young professionals centered around the region’s infrastructure, including the need for better public schools, increased safety, and improved transportation providing access to all communities. 3. Job Opportunities – Forum participants expressed significant interest in receiving information about available job opportunities and potential employers, as well as increasing support for entrepreneurs. 4. Regional Culture – The group’s last main topic focused on the overall culture of the Philadelphia Region. Conversation centered on support for and openness to entrepreneurs, the region’s openness to change, and the identity of Philadelphia.