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Success Story: EDA’s Partnership with Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation Drives Economic Growth in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) is Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation. Their mission is to spur investment, support business growth, and foster developments that create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, and drive growth to every corner of Philadelphia.

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EDA’s long-standing partnership with PIDC and estimated $25 million in investments over the past 20 years was critical to transforming the former Philadelphia Navy Yard to commercial use.

EDA’s investments have included financing strategy creation for the petrochemical and advanced materials sectors, outfitting the Taskykake manufacturing facility, and improving the quay wall to open up the Yard for additional private investment. EDA’s investments have also created 14,000 jobs.

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Philadelphia Navy Yard

In honor of Women’s History Month, PIDC’s president Anne Bovaird Nevins spoke with EDA about her economic development background, offered some professional advice, and discussed how communities can start combating the economic repercussions of the coronavirus:

EDA: How long have you been the President of PIDC? What led you to the position?

Anne: I’ve been president of PIDC since January 27 of this year, having worked for the organization for the past 13 years. I started in a business development role, working to connect small businesses, larger companies, non-profit organizations, and real estate developers in Philadelphia to the resources that PIDC and our economic development partners had available to support their growth and success in the city. From there, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to expand my responsibilities within the organization - first leading the marketing and business development team and then taking on a newly created position as chief strategy and communications officer. In that last role, I had the opportunity to work across all aspects of the organization. When my predecessor announced that he was leaving PIDC, I decided that it was the right time for me to take the next step in my career journey and apply for the leadership role.

PIDC President Anne Bovaird Nevins

Who or what originally inspired you to do economic development work?

I learned last year that EDA Regional Director Linda Cruz-Carnall and I both grew up in households where the quote “For of those to whom much is given, much is required” was a standard. From a very young age, I always knew the I wanted to be engaged in some form of public service as my career.

Having spent the early part of my career in the federal government and the nonprofit sector, I decided to pursue a Masters of Business Administration at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School to gain new skills that I could bring to a mission-driven organization. During my MBA program, I learned about the economic development field and the public-private partnerships that are inherent within that sector. It became clear to me it was a perfect match between my desire to continue in public service and to apply the new skills I had gained around marketing, finance, and real estate development.

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever gotten from another female?

When I took on my first paid baby-sitting job as a pre-teen, my mother told me that I should always leave things better than I had found them. In that context, it might have meant taking some extra time to clean up the dishes left in the sink or put away the toys that had been out before I arrived. But I’ve always kept that advice in mind in all my professional roles and continuously look for ways I can leave things better than I found them. On a personal note, my husband will find this answer quite ironic as I am notorious in our household for leaving the dishes in the sink!

What advice would you now give to females in the economic development world?

If I could encourage everyone in the economic development world — not just women — to do one thing, it would be to take a broad perspective on the long-term impact of their work. Every project represents an opportunity to step forward on diversity, equity, and inclusion in business and real estate ownership and development; environmental sustainability; creating job and economic opportunities for those who need them most; and mentoring others to achieve success.

What are some of the best ways you think we will be able to overcome the economic crisis that has resulted from COVID-19?

It is critically important that we have immediate and coordinated action at the local, state, and federal level in response to the COVID-19 crisis. At the local level in Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia and PIDC launched a $9 million COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund on Monday, March 23. This took an all-hands-on-deck effort over a period of 10 days to identify funding, develop the program, implement new technology systems for remote intake and application review, translate the application and related materials into Spanish and Mandarin to increase accessibility of resources, and more. The program is designed to support Philadelphia small businesses, help maintain payroll obligations, and preserve jobs impacted by the spread of the virus.

With this new fund, we are sending a message to entrepreneurs and small business owners across Philadelphia, and to the many people who rely on these employers for their livelihood, that we will do all that we can to support them during this unprecedented crisis. Our team stands ready to put these much-needed resources to work and help as many people as we can as quickly as possible.

While the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund is an important start, Philadelphia businesses will need more resources from the public and private sectors. We are in daily communication with state and federal officials, as well as local partners, in order to provide access to additional relief options available to businesses of all sizes available through state and federal governments.

And even as we deal with the immediate crisis and the dire situation facing many of our most vulnerable entrepreneurs, as well as the small businesses that are critical employers of so many people in our neighborhoods, we need to be thinking long-term about how we will move forward from this and ensure that the economic recovery is inclusive and sustainable.

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