On Thursday, April 14 the Commerce Department released a report prepared by the policy research firm Econsult Solutions sharing the 2021 impact of the PHL Taking Care of Business Clean Corridors Program (TCB) in meeting its four main program goals:

  1. Making commercial districts in Philadelphia neighborhoods cleaner.
  2. Promoting the economic success of neighborhood businesses by creating an inviting environment for shoppers.
  3. Creating work opportunities for Philadelphians.
  4. Growing the capacity of local small businesses and organizations that provide cleaning services.

About TCB

Championed by Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, TCB launched in 2020. It expanded and enhanced a pre-existing commercial corridor cleaning program managed by the Commerce Department that funded organizations to remove litter from sidewalks within Philadelphia’s neighborhood commercial corridors.

Increased funding helped organizations boost their existing cleaning services on the City’s busiest and most heavily littered neighborhood commercial corridors. It also brought vital cleaning services to heavily trafficked commercial corridors for the first time.

As a result of TCB, the number of organizations performing cleaning services increased from 19 to 39, and the number of corridors being cleaned jumped from 49 to 85. The Philadelphia Streets Department assists TCB by providing a dedicated crew and truck that provides daily pick up of the bags of litter that TCB organizations collect.

TCB cleaning is carried out by small crews of uniformed Cleaning Ambassadors deployed along scheduled cleaning routes identified by the City and the local community organization. Some organizations hire their own staff to perform the cleaning, other organizations contract with a private cleaning provider.

TCB Cleaning Ambassadors earn a minimum of $15 per hour and receive paid workforce training opportunities to equip them to perform their jobs and help them advance in their careers.

TCB’s impact

The results? Cleaner corridors, satisfied merchants and shoppers, quality jobs created, and greater opportunities for local cleaning firms. Notable findings from the report include:

Cleanliness findings

  • 62 percent of TCB Cleaning Areas had manageable amounts of litter with average scores of 1-2 on a 4 point Litter Index.
  • 170,258 bags of trash were removed from TCB corridors by TCB crews. This equals 14,188 dumpsters and averages 652 bags collected citywide on a typical cleaning day.
  • Observations conducted in the spring and fall of 2021 found that the number of TCB blocks with dumped construction debris was cut in half, from 67 to 34 blocks. This suggests that TCB crews have been vigilant in removing construction debris and their work has helped to deter individuals from dumping in the first place.

Impact on neighborhood businesses

  • 91 percent of shoppers say that they visit commercial corridors more if kept clean.
  • 95 percent of business owners surveyed believe TCB has been effective.

Workforce impacts

  • 200 TCB Cleaning Ambassadors are employed in the program, each earning the minimum program wage of $15 an hour or more.
  • More than half of TCB Cleaning Ambassadors are estimated to have been previously incarcerated based on a survey of TCB’s three largest provider organizations.
  • 142 Cleaning Ambassadors obtained the widely recognized OSHA-10 workplace safety credential by participating in free online workforce training.

Impact on cleaning companies

  • TCB enabled four Philadelphia-based, for-profit, minority-owned cleaning companies to grow their businesses, with City contracts among the four companies rising from $221,000 in 2020 to $1.74 million in 2021.

Our process for creating the report

These impressive findings amounted from months of information gathering happening on the ground level. Econsult surveyed 248 business owners on TCB corridors to capture their thoughts on program effectiveness. They also surveyed 508 shoppers across 22 locations citywide to measure their perceptions of corridor cleanliness and how clean sidewalks impact their willingness to go shopping on their neighborhood main street.

The Commerce Department and Econsult also engaged The Intersect, a Philadelphia-based, Black-owned project management firm, to hit the streets and rate litter on all 85 TCB corridors on a scale of 1-4 known as the Litter Index. The Intersect rated every single block cleaned by TCB crews once in spring 2021 and a second time in fall 2021 to get an accurate account of the program’s handle on keeping sidewalks clean. As we all know, one windy morning on trash day can litter a block well beyond its normal amount. Rating every block twice across two seasons took that extra mile to ensure the most accurate study findings.

Moving forward

TCB represents a critical investment by the City in the economic recovery of Philadelphia’s neighborhood business districts and quality of life for nearby residents and shoppers. Findings from the 2021 Report will assist the Commerce Department in fine-tuning the TCB program for even greater future performance. For instance, block by block litter ratings stand to inform strategic investments moving forward and practical feedback gathered from Cleaning Ambassadors will help to shape what workforce trainings are offered in the future.

Time to celebrate

The Commerce Department and elected officials will be celebrating the hard work and great achievements of all 200 TCB Cleaning Ambassadors at a Pep Rally scheduled on Earth Day, April 22, from 10-11:30 a.m. at MLK Recreation Center in Lower North Philadelphia.

Make sure to take care of business by viewing the full TCB 2021 Report here. A Technical Appendix of the Report will be released on the Commerce Department’s TCB webpage in the coming weeks.