Written by Julianne Reichert, Duane Morris LLP
If one thing is for certain about Mayor Michael Nutter, he is whole-heartedly committed to the future growth of Philadelphia. I had the pleasure of attending YPN’s sixth annual “Unplugged” event with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on March 12 at St. Joseph’s University. With a pre-established set of questions as his guide, along with audience questions that followed, he discussed topics that included innovation, sustainability, gun violence, education and health.
Philadelphia’s culture of innovation is vital to carrying our region into the future. By streamlining the city’s Department of Commerce with Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation for StartUp PHL, Mayor Nutter hopes to give entrepreneurs opportunities by rewarding them for bringing local startups to the city. He also acknowledged the wealth of talent that the people of our city possess, citing that this entrepreneurial culture encourages people to work, open businesses and live here.
Not only does he feel strongly about building the startup scene, but Mayor Nutter is also serious about sustainability. We need to repurpose old buildings because destroying them is not even an option. Doing this will help create new spaces for manufacturing and the blue and white collar jobs that come along with it. This sense of hard work and creating opportunities likely come from his strong work ethic that has developed since he began working at the age of 13. In his words, “A little work never hurt anybody.”
In terms of education, he believes that parents should have the option of where to send their children to school. We need to focus on improving the quality of our public schools, as well as incorporate lessons on proper money management. Education is vital to the future of our city. The more people work and educate themselves, the less likely they will get involved with crime.
At times, our city seems to be plagued by unbelievable gun violence. Although he loves the city he grew up in, Mayor Nutter believes that it’s impossible to have a great city if people don’t feel safe. Crime creates a bad image for our city, and that’s not the image we want to portray to the world. “Crime and violence rip out the heart and soul of what a community is all about,” said Mayor Nutter. One of his numerous priorities is tackling the controversial topic of preventative gun violence laws.
Several times throughout his discussion, Mayor Nutter raved about what a great international, centrally located city we have that offers a fantastic arts and music scene, as well as many restaurants and cultural attractions. We have the amenities, assets and infrastructure to attract major acts (remember last year’s Jay Z concert on the Parkway?!) and produce other large scale events. Mayor Nutter even has a team focused on nationwide research to bring even more exciting events to town.
A charismatic, humorous and dynamic speaker, mayor Nutter easily weaved from the more exciting topics to the serious ones, including one brought up by a YPN board member – health. Among his accomplishments while in office include the sugary drink tax and a grant obtained by the CDC to help fight obesity and tobacco. He also mentioned that companies need to take advantage of promoting wellness programs to their employees.
There is no doubt that Mayor Michael Nutter has one of the most demanding jobs in the City of Philadelphia. With all of the challenges on his plate, Nutter’s exuberance is encouraging to young professionals, reminding us to persist despite what challenges our careers may throw our way. He really does have his heart and soul plugged into our great city.
View photos from the event here.