The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a series of unprecedented challenges for Philadelphia. The City’s response has been focused on protecting the health, safety, and welfare of all residents, while supporting as many businesses as possible through difficult shutdowns and other impacts.

Philadelphia needs strategic, sustained solutions to address problems caused, or in many cases exacerbated, by the pandemic—which has had a devastating impact on businesses and jobs. More than 208,000 Philadelphians—including a disproportionate number of minorities—filed initial claims for Unemployment Compensation between March 15 and August 1, 2020.

Our Recovery Framework

The road to recovery and future economic success will be complicated as communities across the world attempt to address both public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. The City—along with our economic and workforce development partners—are working to drive an equitable economic recovery using a four-part framework:

  1. RESPOND: Deliver resources to the most vulnerable businesses and communities and maximize opportunities to sustain employment. Provide immediate relief to entrepreneurs and employers in a transparent and efficient way.  
  2. RESTART: Build confidence in the market to drive demand and support businesses seeking to adapt to new conditions. Provide clear, actionable guidance and critical resources to entrepreneurs and employers seeking to re-open.
  3. RECHARGE: Regain the momentum that was disrupted by the pandemic by positioning entrepreneurs and employers for growth. Identify and develop new opportunities to drive local business demand and build greater resilience among Philadelphia’s most vulnerable businesses and communities.
  4. REIMAGINE: Seize bold opportunities that may have never seemed possible, amplifying Philadelphia’s strengths and ensuring equitable growth for the future. Reimagine and reinvent the industries and jobs of the future in ways that increase access and opportunity for all.

As the City has responded to the COVID-19 crisis, many economic development initiatives that were already underway or planned have been or are in the process of being re-worked to address the evolving critical needs of residents and businesses in a post-pandemic economy.

Respond and Restart

Since the COVID-19 health emergency and corresponding economic crisis first began in March, the City has responded with programs to support businesses, workers, and the public at large. A sampling of these response efforts include:

  • PHL COVID-19 Fund, which distributed $17.5 million dollars to more than 500 local nonprofits that serve vulnerable populations.
  • COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program, which has funding to distribute more than $38 million to help 10,000 households remain in their homes.
  • Philadelphia COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund, which distributed $13.3 million to 2,083 small businesses, with 66 percent of awards going to minority-owned businesses.
  • Philadelphia Worker Relief Fund, which raised more than $1.7 million from philanthropy to provide emergency direct cash assistance to workers and families.

Recharge and Reimagine

As we continue working to restart and recharge the local economy, we’re also capitalizing on a chance to reimagine it. To that end, the City is involved in three related initiatives:

  • The Regional Recharge and Recovery Taskforce, led by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia in collaboration with the Department of Commerce, PIDC, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
  • Equitable Entrepreneurship Assessment and Strategy, led by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, the City, and PIDC who are working are partnering on a comprehensive assessment of the existing local entrepreneurial landscape.
  • Workforce Respond and Recharge Plan, led by the City and Philadelphia Works aimed at identifying and implementing strategies to address the unprecedented unemployment crisis spurred by the pandemic.

Reimagining Our Economy

The City, along with our partners, will implement these plans by capitalizing on our city’s natural strengths to ensure that Philadelphia and its surrounding region become a new national model to learn, apprentice, and work in the jobs of the future. We’ll work to ensure long term housing affordability for residents, invest in neighborhood commercial corridors and minority businesses, and ensure that critical infrastructure and major job-creation projects position Philadelphia as an economically competitive place for the future. 

By creating more targeted opportunities for economic mobility and well-being, fostering the creation of quality jobs, and supporting and enhancing vibrant neighborhood commercial corridors, Philadelphia emerges into a post-COVID-19 world with a more inclusive, equitable, and robust economy that will help ensure long-term prosperity for all.