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Frequently Asked Questions

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Commerce
Monday through Friday 9 – 5

1515 Arch Street, 12th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102

215-683-2100

Office of Labor Standards
Municipal Services Building
1401 JFK Blvd., Room 170C
Philadelphia, PA 19102

215-686-3501

Improving Neighborhoods

What commercial corridors have you invested in and how did you select these corridors?

The Planning Commission identifies 272 commercial centers in the City. The Office of Neighborhood and Economic Development (ONED) of the Commerce Department targets 88 neighborhood commercial corridors, based on pedestrian character and commercial density. Of those 88, we’ve touched 70 with investments and resources in FY13 – to date.
Examples of investments:
  • Corridor Management - 15 corridors
  • Corridor Cleaning – 19 corridors
  • Storefront Grants – 40 corridors

What is a Community Development Corporation (CDC)?

A Community Development Corporation is a non-profit organization incorporated to provide programs, offer services and engage in other activities that promote and support community development. CDCs usually serve a geographic location such as a neighborhood or a town. They often focus on serving lower-income residents or struggling neighborhoods. They can be involved in a variety of activities including economic development, education, community organizing and real estate development. These organizations are often associated with the development of affordable housing.

What is the CDC Tax Credit Program?

The CDC Tax Credit Program is a program, run through the Philadelphia Department of Revenue that allows businesses with tax obligations in Philadelphia to designate $85,000 per year over 10 years to a community development corporation. The program gives the CDC the ability to plan for the long term with a flexible funding stream. This flexibility allows a CDC to support a wide variety of economic development projects and programs based on the specific needs of its neighborhood. In many of these partnerships the business partner has become involved in the community the CDC represents, often having an employee sitting on the CDC board, as well as having employees involved in specific CDC projects, e.g. seasonal neighborhood cleanup campaigns.

The program design is exceedingly simple: In return for contributing $85,000 per year for ten years (with yearly renewals) a business, or two businesses combining a total of $85,000, receive a credit of $85,000 per year against their Philadelphia Income and Receipts Tax (formerly the Business Privilege Tax) obligation. In order to participate in the CDC Tax Credit Program the CDC must demonstrate a dollar-for-dollar match of the $85,000 being received.

How does my CDC apply for a tax credit?

Every year, the Department of Revenue solicits applications for the CDC Tax Credit Program. All applicants are screened for eligibility and those that pass eligibility requirements are put into a lottery. The final awards are based on the organizations that are chosen through the lottery.

What is a Business Improvement District?

A business improvement district is a non-profit organization that is formed to implement cleaning and physical improvements on neighborhood commercial corridors. Business Improvement Districts are sometimes referred to as Special Services Districts or Neighborhood Improvement Districts. Commerce worked with Drexel University to create a step by step guide for business and property owners considering forming a BID.

How does Commerce support Business Improvement Districts?

Commerce supports existing and emerging Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) by: helping stakeholders evaluate whether BID formation is appropriate, helping in the BID formation process, fostering sharing of best practices among BIDs, and facilitating partnerships between BIDs and City departments.

How does Commerce select neighborhoods to receive Streetscape Improvements?

The Office of Neighborhood and Economic Development (ONED) maintains a list of potential projects. Projects on this list are informed through Commerce’s work with CDCs and neighborhood commercial corridors as well as regular conversations with Council Members, Planning Commission, and Streets Dept. Projects are prioritized based on potential for leveraging other funding, capitalizing on other public or private investment in the area, or achieving cost efficiencies by combining work with other departments, such as Streets, Water, or Parks and Rec. With an annual allocation of $5million, Commerce can typically implement on 2 projects per year.

Business Support

What type of businesses does the Office of Business Services assist?

OBS provides assistance to all type of businesses, small or large. We assist businesses who are at the start-up stage or already established. We assist retail businesses, industrial businesses, service providers, and non-profits. We have resources available for all type of businesses. All of our services are free of charge.

Is there an online resource for businesses in Philadelphia?

The City of Philadelphia has launched an online Business Services Center. Whether you are looking to start up a new business or grow an existing operation, you will find the information you need at the City of Philadelphia’s Business Services Center. 

Does the Office of Business Services (OBS) have grant programs available to businesses?

As part of the Commerce Department, OBS solicits businesses for grant programs that are offered through the Commerce Department. Those grants include:

Storefront Improvement Program
The purpose of the Storefront Improvement Program is to encourage businesses and property owners within eligible neighborhood commercial corridors to improve their storefronts, making these areas more attractive to shoppers, and growing their vitality and economic performance. The program reimburses owners of commercial buildings and businesses up to 50% of the total cost of eligible improvements, for a maximum reimbursement of $8,000 for a single commercial property or $12,000 for a multiple address or corner business property.

SafeCam Program
The purpose of the Commerce SafeCam Program is to encourage businesses and property owners within neighborhood commercial corridors to install surveillance cameras, making these areas safer for shoppers and the community while growing their vitality and economic performance. The program reimburses owners of commercial buildings and businesses up to 50% of the total cost of eligible improvements, for a maximum reimbursement of $3,000 for a single commercial property. The digital camera security system must be installed on the outside of your building providing surveillance for your business and the public space.

For more information, contact OBS by calling our Business Services Hotline at 216-683-2100 or by emailing business@phila.gov.

Does the Department of Commerce offer loans?

Commerce does not make loans, but can help businesses with identifying loan providers that fit their needs. The Office of Business Services (OBS) works with numerous lenders. Whether your business requires a small business loan or a larger loan, OBS can help your business explore options.

Can the Department of Commerce help me to write a business plan?

The Office of Business Services (OBS) can help you to make strategic decisions about your business, but does not provide direct assistance in writing a business plan. OBS can connect you to a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or an entrepreneurial training program that can assist you in writing a plan.

W/M/DSBE

What is Minority/Women/Disabled Enterprise (M/W/DSBE) certification?

Certification verifies that at least 51% of the beneficial ownership interest and control are owned by a minority, women or disabled person.

What is OEO registration?

Registration is the process of going online (www.phila.mwdsbe.com ) to complete the Office of Economic of Opportunity’s (“OEO”) Registration Application. This application can take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Questions on the application pertain to firm’s profile (example: name, address, city, state, zip code, EIN, number of employees etc.). Your completed application is processed and/or approved. Your company will receive a Registration Letter via email. The Registration letter will include your registration number, North American Industry Code System (NAICS), date issued and expiration date. A firm has to be certified before they can be registered. Please direct all questions to Jennifer Wise at (215) 683-2071. 

What are the benefits of being certified/registered with the City of Philadelphia?

  • The OEO Registry is viewed by contractors and professionals seeking vibrant M/W/DSBEs as joint venture partners and sub-contractors on major projects in the region.
  • City operating departments will use the OEO Registry as a sourcing tool for consulting services and special projects.
  • Your company will automatically be contacted by the City of Philadelphia Procurement Department with an application to be placed on the Bidder’s List (limited to competitive bids for service, equipment, supplies, and public works contracts).
  • The City of Philadelphia Commerce Department will contact your company to offer technical and financial services to help your company build capacity and insure your success.
  • Free Advertisement 365 days a year, your company’s information is listed in OEO’s Registry, which is utilized by the 38 City departments, public, private, and nonprofit industries.

How do I become certified?

  • To get certified, please visit OEO’s website at www.phila.gov/oeo for a listing of Recognized Certifying Agencies. Click on one of the agencies, read instructions, print and fill out application. Please direct all questions to Alice Dungee-James at 215-683-2052.
  • After getting certified, please go to www.phila.mwdsbe.com to get registered. Read and follow instructions for the online Registration Application. Please direct all questions to Jennifer Wise at (215) 683-2071.

How do I become registered with the Office of Economic Opportunity?

Please go to www.phila.mwdsbe.com to get registered. Read and follow the instructions for the online Registration Application. Please direct all questions to Jennifer Wise at 215-683-2071.

How long does the process take to get registered with OEO?

It takes approximately 5 to 10 business days to get registered with OEO. (95% of the time sooner)

Where can I find a list of registered M/W/DSBE’s?

You can find a list of registered M/W/DSBE’s on OEO Registry at www.phila.mwdsbe.com.

Why do I need to fill out a renewal application with OEO when my certification expires?

OEO mirrors the expiration date of your certifying agency. Therefore, when your certification expires with that agency so does your OEO registration. When you renew your certification, you are required to renew your registration with OEO.

Does OEO accept Veterans Certification?

No.

What is the difference between your Certification Number and your Registration Number?

You receive your certification number from the Recognized Certifying Agency that certified your business. Your certification number is listed on your certificate and it is generated by that agency and used internally. You receive your registration number from OEO and it is also generated and used internally by OEO.

How do I get my username and password for the Registry?

Please visit www.phila.mwdsbe.com
  • Click on Contact Us and Support
  • Scroll down to System Support and click on Customer Service
  • Complete sections 1 and 2 (Message Subject: Need Username and Password) 

How do I navigate/search the OEO registry?


There are several ways to navigate/search the registry.
  1. Search by business name and/or doing business as (d.b.a.)
  2. Search by business description
  3. Search by commodity codes
  4. Search by contact person
  5. Search by location and
  6. Search by certification type
For additional assistance, please contact Jennifer Wise at (215) 683-2071.

When you are registered with OEO are you also registered with the state?

No.

My account is in B2GNOW System, so why am I not registered with OEO?

Your account is in B2GNOW System because you have registered with another municipality that is in the shared database. In order to be registered with OEO you have to visit www.phila.mwdsbe.com to complete OEO’s online registration application. If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Wise at (215) 6836-2071.