Every year, I deliver a formal address to the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.

It’s an opportunity for me to address Philly’s business community and reflect on the progress of the past year while emphasizing my priorities for the year to come.

Looking back on the progress we’ve made

This was my third time making this big speech.

There was a lot to discuss this year:  

  • We took a step toward ensuring quality schools for all of our children by beginning the transition to local control.
  • We submitted a bid for Amazon HQ2 — one of the greatest examples of how far Philadelphia has come in recent years. Never before have we seen such a coordinated effort to bring a company to this city. I was thrilled that we made the first cut and ended up on Amazon’s first list of finalists.
  • The Philadelphia Beverage Tax supported 2,000 PHLpreK seats and 11 of the City’s 12 community schools, representing another critical investment in our young people. The twelfth school, Alain Locke School, is funded by a Promise Zone grant.

These were only some of the accomplishments that I referenced in my remarks.

We also defended the rights of our immigrant residents, upheld Philadelphia’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accords, and developed a comprehensive strategy to combat the deadly opioid epidemic.

All of these were important steps toward a more equitable, fair, and successful future for Philadelphia.

But, we must keep going. There’s still more work to do — and progress to be made.

Building a workforce for the 21st century

While we work to help Philadelphians get ahead, we must also focus on equipping residents with the skills that they need to succeed in the modern economy.

This year, I was excited to announce Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine, our new workforce development strategy.

Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine calls for more coordination and collaboration across education, job training, and other supportive services to drive economic growth with equity.

Our comprehensive strategy has three specific goals:

  1.      Prepare Philadelphians with the skills employers need for a world-class workforce.
  2.      Address the barriers that prevent Philadelphians from accessing meaningful career opportunities.
  3.      Build a workforce system that is more coordinated, innovative, and effective.

We will train Philadelphians with the skills employers need, match them with jobs that are available now, and continue to support career advancement in the future.

We’ve done a lot in the past year. Now, let’s set our sights on working with employers and residents alike to address the talent needs of local employers while preparing residents for careers that allow them to reach their full potential.

I hope you will join me in this effort.

It’s an ambitious goal but I know that we can succeed if we work — together.