|Program||# of Grants||EDA Funds|
|Assistance To Coal Communities||3||$1,440,142|
|Regional Innovation Strategies||2||$750,000|
|Trade Adjustment Assistance||2||$1,928,987|
In Philadelphia, economically distressed neighborhoods are frequently located adjacent to economically thriving neighborhoods. Such is the case with the West Philadelphia Promise Zone, which includes both the high-poverty tracts of West Philadelphia and the hub of higher education, science, and innovation known as “University City.”
The urban renewal of the 1950s and 1960s saw the creation of a “superblock” to house the University City High School, which physically divided the community and created obstacles to residents. Concurrently, the growth of the University City Science Center, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania, created a zone of labs and collaborative spaces along Market Street. Market Street has recently emerged as a destination for both domestic and overseas investment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). As the University City High School and the rest of the “superblock” became obsolete, the opportunity to demolish and reintegrate the site into the economic growth of the neighborhood was quickly recognized.
In September 2016, EDA invested $1.5 million in Public Works funds to assist Drexel University in reopening streets that were closed in the creation of the “superblock.” This led to the reintegration of residents, employment centers, and amenities, as well as facilitated the access of Promise Zone residents to the job-creating investments that were generated by the universities, the Science Center, and private sector partners. The construction of innovation space will serve as home to the expansion of Boston-based Cambridge Innovation Center’s co-working space. This Center is expected to leverage $26 million in private investment and create 830 jobs, as well as provide space for the expansion of the University City Science Center’s Quorum entrepreneur community facility and a major addition to Drexel University. EDA’s investment in reopening the streets will provide residents in West Philadelphia access to these new jobs and spaces, establishing new opportunities for the community.