Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Baseball Edition

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Commonwealth produces 75% of the American White Ash wood in Louisville Sluggers, which are used by most major league players. Further - BWP Bats - in Brookville, makes approximately 3,000 bats per week, including the one used by Johnny Damon of the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another Philadelphia Organization You Might Not Have Heard About

The Philadelphia-based OMG Center for Collaborative Learning is an independent nonprofit research and consulting outfit. They work with philanthropic, nonprofit and governmental organizations across the country. Founded in 1988, the Center has maintained a focus on public and urban policy issues, emphasizing organizational capacity building, program assessment and evaluation, data and trend analysis, and grants management and intermediary support.

John Dougherty's Stool is Falling Down

Dan at Young Philly Politics has a great post today on the rise and fall of John Dougherty.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rendell Gives $25 Million Boost to the Barnes

According to the Inquirer, Governor Rendell announced yesterday that the Commonwealth would contribute $25 million toward construction of a new home for the Barnes on the site of the Youth Study Center, between 20th and 21st Streets. Rendell said the Barnes move would move Philadelphia "to the ranks of the great cities of the world." Among art lovers and tourists, Rendell said, Philadelphia will become "a must-see" city. The Barnes’ collection consists of 181 Renoirs, 61 C├ęzannes, 60 Matisses and a multitude of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, African and African American art and artifacts.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

State of Center City Report: Good News

The annual report issued by the Center City District about the state of Center City presents a number of interesting findings, such as:
  • The City lost only 217 jobs from 2004 to 2005, compared to a 9,100 reduction from 2000 to 2004. The year 2000 was the last time the City achieved employment growth.

  • The City's business privilege tax adds a cost of $4.76 per sq. ft. to businesses located in the City compared to businesses in a suburb. A 100,000 square foot tenant with 400 employees would save $476,000 per year by moving to the suburbs. We'll need to work on this.

  • The City's residential boom continues to have a powerful effect on the City, as 1,966 housing units were added in 2005. Since a 10-year tax abatement (thanks Councilman DiCicco) was implemented in 1997, 8,356 new units have been constructed. Wow.

  • Center City, with 3 percent of the City's land, provides 47 percent of private sector wages. When University City is factored in, that number comes to 57 percent of all wages earned in the City. So much for the "Center City vs. the Neighborhoods" formulation. Center City is the economic engine that drives Philadelphia.

Monday, March 27, 2006

CHOP Expands at Wanamaker Building

According to the Center City District, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia ("CHOP") will occupy more than 175,000 sq. ft. of office space in the Wanamaker Building. This move is noteworthy in that a hospital - to free up space for medical use in University City - has concentrated its major administrative and business functions in Center City.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

More Center City Residential: Not Condos this Time

Seven floors of Class C office space at 1530 Chestnut Street - above clothing retailer H&M - will be converted into 40 “middle-market” apartment units, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Mugshots and Mural Arts

Come to Mugshots in Fairmount to hear from Mural Arts Program Director Jane Golden and see a brief screening of a documentary-in-progress about the Mural Arts Program's work with incarcerated men at the State Correctional Institution at Graterford and a silent auction of mural photographs. The special guest - Bernard Hopkins, former USBA Middleweight Title Champ - will discuss his own incarceration at Graterford prior to his hugely successful boxing career and talk about rehabilitation and redemption.

Host: Mugshots Coffee House & The Philadelphia Mural Arts Advocates
Location: Mugshots Coffee House - 21st & Fairmount Streets, Philadelphia
When: Wednesday, March 29, 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Phone: To purchase tickets, please call Jenn McCreary, Mural Arts Program Special Event Coordinator at 215-888-9116
Cost: $25 per person

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Agriculture Factoid

Domestic honey bees help farmers pollinate crops. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, pollination from Pennsylvania honey bees can be directly attributed to the production of over $50 million dollars of fruits and vegetables in the Commonwealth annually. PA is home to 1,870 registered beekeepers. Thank you beekeepers and bees!

Meeting Planners Like Philadelphia

Attendees at the Professional Convention Management Association’s 50th annual meeting - held last January in Philadelphia - had positive impressions of our City, according to the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB). The next issue of Convene magazine will reveal that 77% of attendees said they would consider hosting a meeting in Philadelphia. Ninety-three percent would recommend Philadelphia as a meeting location and 99% said their Philadelphia experience was enjoyable.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Councilman Nutter Meet & Greet

There's a free meet & greet at Ten Stone, Tuesday, March 28, 6:30 to 8:30. Come out and say hello to Councilman Nutter, meet his friends and supporters, and have a good time. Ten Stone is located on the corner of 21st and South Street.

Contact eryn@nutter2007.com to RSVP.

Philadelphia is a Bubble Blower

Philadelphia is the only northeastern city among 10 “bubble blowers” or cities where housing appreciation is expected to grow, according to Bankrate.com. A recent survey by Bankrate.com indentifies a 12% increase in real estate appreciation in Philadelphia between 2004 and 2005, which they characterize as “high enough to encourage people to buy homes, but not at such a dizzying rate as to spark panic purchases.” Further, “The housing-cost-to-income ratio at 31% is quite favorable compared to other large northeastern cities (53% in Washington, D.C. and Newark, N.J. and 72% in New York City) and while job growth is small, it’s moving in the right direction,” Banknote reported.

Actor Charlie Sheen Questions Official 9/11 Story

Here's the text...wow!

Smoking Ban Bill: Another Try

From my friends at the Nutter campaign:

The Smoking-Ban Bill will be discussed in a public hearing on Monday, March 27 at 10:00 a.m. in City Hall's Room 400. If you would like to testify or attend, please contact eryn@nutter2007.com for more information.

Philadelphia: International Travelers Like Us

Philadelphia hosted 430,000 international visitors in 2005 - an increase from 2004 - according to speakers at a recent forum on international travel hosted by the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More Condos: This Time in Spring Garden

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a 500-foot condominium tower on the site of the Best Western Motel at 22d and Spring Garden Streets is in the works. The tower would be 47 stories tall and include 274 units.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Random Agriculatural Factoid

Yesterday was National Agriculture Day, did you hug a farmer? Each U.S. farmer produces food and fiber for 146 people around the globe and Pennsylvania farmers generate $4.9 billion in cash receipts and $44 billion in total economic impact.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm Pissed about this Waterless Urinals Issue

Dan at Young Philly Politics and ACM at A Smoke Filled Room have both posted about Inga Saffron’s article in the Inquirer this weekend about the Plumbers' Union and their opposition to “waterless urinals” being installed at the Comcast Center being built at 17th and JFK. Waterless urinals - as the name suggests - use a lot less H2O than the standard type. They're also less labor intensive to install (less labor = fewer plumbers). The short-term implication of this obdurate behavior – if effective - is that the building couldn’t apply for tallest “green building” in America status; the long-term impact could be the thwarting of a broad range of water conservation efforts and millions (maybe billions?) in extra costs for the City’s water utility and customers.
What can we do? I’m not sure. It seems like this is one of those defining policy crossroads that we in Philadelphia so often find ourselves at; are we going to move forward, or are we going to stagnate and let the dinosaurs drag us back? I’d prefer progress and I suspect many others would as well. Maybe if enough of us contact the Department of Licenses and Inspection’s Commissioner – Robert Solvibile at robert.solvibile@phila.gov we can get the City to move this in the right direction. I sympathize with the Plumbers' Union. I know they want to maintain as many jobs as they can; however, the cooper and farrier had to deal with technological progress at some point (not as many barrels to be made or horses to shoe as there used to be) and so will the plumber.

More Condos

When construction was completed in September 2000 on Dockside - a $75 million high-end apartment complex on Pier 30 in Philadelphia - the project was the first residential development of its type along the Delaware River. Six years later, with waterfront living in demand and low interest rates, 242 apartments at Dockside are being converted into condos ranging from the low $300,000s for a studio to $1.3 million for the larger, 1,800-square-foot units.

Friday, March 17, 2006

McClure to Run for 4th District Council Seat?

Matt McClure - an attorney for Ballard Spahr – is apparently exploring the possibility of running for the Fourth District Council seat should Councilman Nutter step down to run for Mayor. Prior to working at Ballard, McClure handled media relations for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and worked in the office of then Mayor Rendell. Matt is a fourth generation Philadelphian who has been very active in his community. He’s a committeeperson in the Thirty-Eighth Ward, on the East Falls Development Corporation Board of Directors, and serves on the East Falls School Committee. Reliable sources from tell AHT that Matt’s been meeting with a variety of political types (including former executives from Rendell’s mayoral administration) and community leaders, talking about his potential candidacy, learning what the Fourth District wants/needs, and building support. McClure was recently named one of the "40 under 40" young business leaders by the Philadelphia Business Journal for 2006.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Shame Of The City: The 2003 Mayoral Election

On Wednesday, March 29 at 7:30 at the Pen & Pencil Club, Producer/Director Tigre Hill will give folks a sneak peek of his film "The Shame of a City", a documentary about the 2003 Philadelphia Mayor's race. Mr. Hill will present a 15-minute sneak preview of the film and answer questions about its making. The film will make its debut at The Philadelphia Film Festival on March 31.

Monday, March 13, 2006

AHT Vocab Builder: Panamax

According to Wikipedia, "Ships classified as Panamax are of the maximum dimensions that will fit through the locks of the Panama Canal. This size is determined by the dimensions of the lock chambers, and the depth of the water in the canal. Panamax is a significant factor in the design of cargo ships, with many ships being built to exactly the maximum allowable size."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Agriculture Factoid

According to the Commonwealth's Department of Agriculture, almost 60% of the Commonwealth is forested. We lead the nation in hardwood lumber with over $5 billion in sales and exported more than $910 million in hardwood logs, lumber, furniture and paper in 2005.

Temple Law's Student Public Interest Network (“SPIN”)

This is an organization at Temple Law that supports students who volunteer for summer public interest jobs. SPIN was formed in 1992 after a second-year Temple Law student had to turn down a summer public interest job because they were unable to pay him. Ever since, SPIN has worked to ensure that students would not have to pass up an opportunity to do valuable work and to gain the rich experience it offers. Since inception, SPIN has raised almost $200,000, which has been directed to grants for students working for non-profit legal organizations during the summer. The funds are raised through the efforts of Temple Law students in a series of events that culminate with the annual auction. For more information, please contact spin@temple.edu or see their website.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Strong 2006 Start for Center City Hotels

According to Smith Travel Research, Center City hotels achieved 61.4% occupancy in January, up 5.1% from 2005. Center City did better than the rest of the region's hospitality industry, which recorded an overall 5.1% drop in occupancy, driven mostly by a 22.5% drop for airport-area hotels. RevPAR (e.g., revenue-per-available-room) was up 14.6% for Center City hotels.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Alternative Energy Industry Expands in the Commonwealth

Spanish company Gamesa has announced that it will construct three new factories in Bucks County, costing $34 million. Gamesa makes wind turbines that generate electricity. The Bucks County plants – situated on 20 acres of former U.S. Steel Corp property – will open by mid-2006 and employ 300. Gamesa has already invested $40 million to open its North American headquarters in Philadelphia and construct a facility in Cambria County. The Bucks County plants will make blades and towers for wind turbines.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Major Latino Conference Coming

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will hold its 27th annual convention in Philadelphia this September. It is likely to be the “the biggest Hispanic business event in the history of this country" according to the Chamber with up to 5,000 attendees expected.

The Mariano Trial

If you want to follow the blow-by-blow, check out this blog.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rohm & Haas will Remain on Independence Mall

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rohm & Haas - after considering office space west of City Hall - has decided to remain in its world headquarters on Independence Mall and renovate the building's interior, which will cost $20 to $25 million. It's the first major renovation for the nine-story building since construction in the mid-1960s. Rohm & Haas, a specialty chemicals company, has 1,000 employees working in the building. Overall, Rohm and Haas does $8 billion in annual sales and has 17,000 employees and facilities in 27 countries.

Friday, March 03, 2006

PhillyCarShare Expands Its Offerings

Reduce auto-dependency, congestion, and pollution, and look chic and stylish while doing so.

PhillyCarShare is a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization dedicated to reducing automobile dependency in the Philadelphia region through community-based car sharing – improving neighborhood livability; increasing transit ridership, walking, and biking; improving air quality; promoting economic development; mitigating development; mitigating parking demand; and increasing accessibility while alleviating the burdens of auto ownership.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Philadelphia International Airport Sets Records

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia International Airport (“PIA”) set "personal" records in 2005 for passengers and takeoffs & landings. PIA handled 535,666 takeoffs and landings in 2005, making it the world's ninth-busiest, compared with 486,164, or 13th busiest in 2004. With 31.5 million passengers getting on or off planes, PIA ranked 21st busiest on the planet in 2005, compared with a 25th-place in 2004. The surge in traffic is attributable to the continuing growth of two low-cost carriers, Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways and a big increase in flights and passengers for US Airways Express, the commuter service of PIA’s largest airline.

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