State of Manufacturing in Philadelphia

By Bobby Henon

At this critical time in Philadelphia's history, it is imperative that we commit to supporting manufacturing as a way to create family-sustaining jobs, provide engaging opportunities for young people entering the workforce, and ensure that our city has the capability to compete on the global stage.

Manufacturing is personal to me. My father moved from one manufacturing job to another in order to provide for me and my siblings. All the companies he worked for have since closed their doors, leaving hundreds of unemployed workers behind.

So I was eager to work with Mayor Nutter on a task force that would study the status of the manufacturing industry and come up with a comprehensive set of recommendations to guide us into the future.

After spending the year working with dozens of CEOs from manufacturers from across the region, I have a greater sense of the challenges and opportunities for the sector.

On Thursday, my task-force co-chairs and I will present the mayor with our final report, an action plan for building a more robust manufacturing sector in Philadelphia and the region.

The bottom line is simple: Manufacturing matters to thousands of families across the region. It matters to our city and our country.

The industry supports more than 12 million jobs in the United States - nearly 10 percent of the American workforce - and 23,000 of those jobs are in Philadelphia. For every dollar spent in manufacturing, $1.48 is returned to the U.S. economy.

Manufacturing isn't the gritty, smog-producing work that some imagine. Today's manufacturers - including those in our region - are high-tech innovators. They make everything from church robes to beer to ships to ball bearings. We need to do a better job of telling this story.

We also need to inspire young people and get them excited about manufacturing careers. By showing kids, parents, and schools that manufacturing careers are diverse, well-paying, and mostly high-tech, we can open new doors of opportunity for them - and supply a homegrown workforce.

Of course, we must also prepare our kids for work. Our kids are competing in a global economy, and they need the education and skill set to prepare for the evolving and highly technical manufacturing jobs of the future. By focusing on STEM subjects in school (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), we can make an important early investment in preparing students for their future.

Philadelphia is blessed with many inherent advantages for manufacturers: prime location, natural resources, and extensive transportation systems.

To keep this edge, we must fight for investment in transportation and energy infrastructure, including the maintenance and development of our ports, bridges and roadways, surface-transit systems, and water and wastewater systems. We must also modernize our electrical grid, develop natural-gas resources, and encourage private-sector investment in high-speed communications and broadband infrastructure. We can't tinker around the edges. We need to go all in, because infrastructure supports every industry and taxpayer - and is especially critical to manufacturers.

Here's just one example:

With the Panama Canal expansion set for completion in 2015, only two of 15 East Coast ports are equipped to handle the megatankers that will move through the widened canal - and neither is in Philadelphia. However, according to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, the deepening of the Delaware shipping channel that is underway will allow our ports to handle 98 percent of all oceangoing ships. In addition, Packer Marine Terminal's location south of the Walt Whitman Bridge means taller ships can offload in Philadelphia, giving us an advantage over the Port of New York and New Jersey, where the Bayonne Bridge will have to be raised in order to handle these taller vessels.

Finally, we need to show our commitment to manufacturers by centralizing, streamlining, and coordinating resources from all levels of government in one Philadelphia location.

A new office of manufacturing policy can help emerging and established manufacturing firms navigate regulations, identify training and funding opportunities, and capitalize on resources to help manufacturers locate here, grow here, and stay here.

Manufacturing matters, and this report is just the beginning. I plan to work hard in the weeks, months, and years ahead to implement the task force's recommendations so we can keep our factory doors open, and open new ones. Together, we can and will make it in Philadelphia.

Bobby Henon is a Councilman representing Philadelphia's 6th District. Original story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Manufacturing Task Force Report is Available

Manufacturing Task Force provides analysis and recommendations to help makethe Greater Philadelphia region a better place for manufacturing.

Philadelphia, December 19, 2013 Members of the Manufacturing Task Force and Advisory Committee and officials from the Department of Commerce and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) joined Mayor Michael A. Nutter to unveil the Manufacturing Growth Strategy for Philadelphia, a detailed analysis with recommendations aimed at growing manufacturing in the Greater Philadelphia region. The findings are the result of the City of Philadelphia’s Manufacturing Task Force, which was formed in January 2013 to evaluate the City’s competitiveness for manufacturing and recommend specific strategies for improvement. After the release of the report, the Task Force members toured the production line at AgustaWestland, a global helicopter manufacturing company in Philadelphia.

“Philadelphia has a history of great manufacturing and many assets, like location, infrastructure and research institutions, that can support continued growth in this sector of the economy,” said Mayor Nutter. “The Task Force’s analysis and recommendations are the beginning of a long-term strategy to bolster manufacturing in Philadelphia.  I want to thank Task Force members their hard work and dedication on this report, especially the Co-Chairs.  If we take the right steps, I am confident that Philadelphia’s manufacturing will continue to grow and provide good-paying jobs for residents.

Led by a diverse group of private sector business leaders, the Task Force worked in concert with an Advisory Committee representing government, economic development, academia, utilities, labor, and workforce development to identify key issues and recommend attainable solutions to make Philadelphia a better place for manufacturing.

Serving as co-chairs on the Task Force were: Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware; Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development for the City of Philadelphia; The Honorable Bobby Henon, City Council of Philadelphia; and William Hunt, CEO of AgustaWestland Philadelphia.

“The first goal of the Task Force was to understand the manufacturing sector and create a detailed definition. Philadelphia’s manufacturing sector is broad and diverse; it no longer features the traditional ‘smoke stacks’ and vertically integrated factories that formerly abutted residential neighborhoods,” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor of Economic Development. “Today, Philadelphia’s manufacturing industry is faster, more technologically driven, and largely exists within 15 industrial districts located throughout the City. Among the city’s competitive strengths are chemicals, medical equipment, machinery, food processing and transportation equipment and parts.”

Once the Task Force defined the manufacturing sector, the next step was to perform an analysis of key foundational issues identified as critical to the sustained growth of the manufacturing sector in Philadelphia. These issues are talent, innovation, government, energy and logistics, utilities and transportation.

After the Task Force developed the manufacturing sector definition and the key foundational issues were analyzed, the group established a series of strategy recommendations to encourage growth in manufacturing.

  • Talent – Expand technical training programs offered by the community colleges to align with the needs of the manufacturing sector. Increasing opportunities for technical skills training and boosting enrollments will create a pipeline from which manufacturers can recruit. Additionally, focus high school and technical education programs on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to support manufacturers and help close the skills gap;

“An available and qualified workforce is critical to the success of manufacturers in the Philadelphia region,” said Bill Hunt, CEO of AgustaWestland. “A significant investment in education - including the expansion of technical programs and reinforcement of STEM skills in the classroom – will prepare our young people today for the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow.” 

  • Innovation– Expand linkages between existing university product design programs at local universities and regional manufacturers. Providing local firms with access to students enrolled in these programs will produce immediate benefits for both parties. Furthermore, by using the federal manufacturing accelerator model, Philadelphia should explore continued development of these connections into new partnerships between industry and universities to establish innovation centers or incubators to assist private companies in solving technical problems and spur innovation;
  • Access to Capital– Create new loan and/or equity funds targeted specifically to small and mid-size manufacturers investing in product development and innovation which would offer an alternative to funding major investments in new products or technologies from cash flow alone. Also, expand access to flexible business loans for small equipment purchases and working capital. PIDC ought to utilize its recent CDFI designation to raise new private capital for this type of small business lending;

Citizens Bank President Daniel K. Fitzpatrick discussed the recommendations from a financial standpoint. “As with all types of business, access to capital is necessary in order to grow and expand. By increasing access to flexible capital through flexible business loans and equity funding targeted to small businesses, Philadelphia’s manufacturing sector can prosper through growth in innovation and product design.”

  • Advocacy, Networks and Business Development– Conduct an image campaign educating students, parents, teachers and guidance counselors about employment opportunities in manufacturing and how they can provide a challenging work environment, livable wages and a path for professional growth. Also, implement a focused business attraction campaign to publicize the City and region’s competitive advantages for manufacturing;
  • Government & Regulation – Decrease the tax burden on manufacturing companies and identify targeted incentives to decrease operating costs, and continue to preserve by-right zoning in industrial corridors in order to protect manufacturing users from being priced out of the City or from land speculators. Also, the Task Force recommends enhancing communications between government and manufacturers while providing services to the industry to be done through a working group formed and convened by the Department of Commerce consisting of those actively engaged in the manufacturing community to coordinate the implementation of recommendations outlined by the Task Force;

Councilman Bobby Henon added, “An important step to reducing cost gaps with competing regions is addressing the tax burden on manufacturers and creating a simple and competitive tax and regulatory environment. The new Single Sales Apportionment tax-reform legislation the City will begin implementing in 2014 will addresses the rising tax burdens previously faced by businesses allowing for a decrease in their business tax liability.”

  • Energy – Increase the supply of natural gas and natural gas liquids available to manufacturers in the City and Region by increasing pipeline capacity which will help provide a strong competitive advantage to the chemical and petrochemical clusters. Also, promote the use of energy efficient technology, distributed energy systems and smart grid technology to improve energy efficiency of large manufacturing operations.

“Through these recommendations, we believe we have developed the foundation for a comprehensive strategy that will strengthen Philadelphia’s identity as a major player in the manufacturing sector,” said Deputy Mayor Greenberger. “As we implement these strategies, we will be positioned as an attractive location to private sector investors and public funding opportunities that lead to job creation in our city.”

Efforts to implement the recommendations made by the task force are already underway.  Mayor Nutter has directed the Department of Commerce to convene monthly and create a roadmap to implement the recommendations, coordinate the attraction of new manufacturing companies to Philadelphia and work together to pursue federal and other funding opportunities. Some early action items identifiedby the Mayor include the development of Philadelphia’s Advanced Manufacturing Industry Partnership career pathway that will be expanded to include field trips and job shadowing for high school students. The pathway will also be extended to internships and co-ops for post-secondary and vocational students drawn from the initial cohort that completed their work this past summer.To view the full report online, visit: For more information, please visit

National Manufacturing Day Declared in Philadelphia

Councilman Bobby Henon (6th Dist.) officially recognized Friday Oct. 4 as National Manufacturing Day in the City of Philadelphia. Henon was joined today by local manufacturers and business leaders at a proclamation ceremony in City Council.

Manufacturers will celebrate the 2ndAnnual National Manufacturing Day across the nation tomorrow. In Philadelphia, local manufacturers from across the sector will participate.

“Philadelphia began as the original start-up city, we make everything in Philadelphia, from beer to textiles to church robes to ball bearings. Our manufacturers supplied the world once and we can again,” Henon said. “Part of what Manufacturing Day is about is a chance for us to celebrate the hard-working men and women who are the heartbeat of our local economy. It also give us a chance to show young people the increasingly high-tech and innovative nature of this career path.”

Bill Hunt, CEO of Agusta Westland, received the proclamation on behalf of the region's manufacturers.

Councilman Henon speaks during the presentation.

“Critical to a successful manufacturing operation are an available and trained workforce, established and reliable infrastructure, and partners in government that have an understanding of the value that manufacturing jobs bring to our people and our city,” Hunt said. “All of you in this room are our partners, and play a key role in allowing the residents of Philadelphia to thrive and our economy to advance.”

Hunt continued, “I urge my fellow business leaders and our elected officials to take the lead in manufacturing Philadelphia’s future and prioritize the need to adequately educate our children, attract new business, and give our residents a quality of life that exceeds that of just a 'decent' wage. Manufacturing jobs do just that. We must be partners in teaching the lesson that manufacturing is good for the City and good for the citizens of Philadelphia.”

Councilman Henon and Hunt are co-chairs of the Manufacturing Matters Task Force, along with Dan Fitzpatrick, President of Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania and Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. National Manufacturing Day events in Philadelphia will be highlighted by a visit to Next Fab Studios (2025 Washington Ave.) with students from MaST Charter School from 11:30 -2:00 on Friday, Oct. 4.

“Manufacturing is coming back. There's a resurgence across the country,” Henon said. “We need to make sure that, here in Philadelphia, we support this sector with sound policy and help them make our city a major player in manufacturing once again.”

For more information on National Manufacturing Day in Philadelphia, visit


Philly Task Force to focus on Manufacturing

Mayor Nutter signed an executive order Tuesday establishing a manufacturing task force to explore how to promote the sector in the city once known as the "Workshop of the World."

The task force will investigate the challenges area manufacturers face and recommend ways to make their businesses stronger and the region more competitive.

Despite the decline of industry in the city, Philadelphia is still home to more than 23,000 direct manufacturing jobs. The sector is experiencing something of a resurgence in the United States, with some jobs sent overseas now returning.

Nutter will appoint as many as 25 members of the task force in consultation with City Council and business leaders. The task force is to produce a report by Aug. 31.

Four cochairmen were named Tuesday: Councilman Bobby Henon, who was instrumental in establishing the task force; Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger; Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce chairman Dan Fitzpatrick; and Bill Hunt, chief executive officer of AgustaWestland Philadelphia, a helicopter supply firm.

Henon said the timing was right to boost an essential sector of the economy, one he described as the backbone of a stable middle-class lifestyle.

"I believe we can make our city great, create new jobs . . . and provide opportunities for people like me," he said, "neighborhood guys who just want to work hard and provide for their families."

Written by Troy Graham for the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 16, 2013


Task Force will develop a strategy to strengthen manufacturing in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, January 15, 2013– Mayor Michael A. Nutter signed an Executive Order establishing the Manufacturing Task Force, which will evaluate the state of manufacturing in Philadelphia and develop a strategy to promote and grow this important sector of the economy. The task force will examine the challenges manufacturing companies face and recommend specific measures that will help support their growth and increase our region’s competitiveness.

“Manufacturing has always been an important part of Philadelphia’s economy. By focusing our attention on manufacturing, our goal is to do everything we can to continue growing this fast-moving sector and ensure that Philadelphia is poised to be the place where innovative products are designed and made,” said Mayor Nutter. “Establishing this Task Force will allow City officials, economic development experts, business leaders and manufacturing executives across Philadelphia and the region to evaluate the industry’s strengths and weaknesses, and create a clear plan of action to help position the region for future success.”

Manufacturing generates more than $1.3 billion in total wages and supports 23,100 direct manufacturing jobs in Philadelphia. Nationally, the sector is experiencing a resurgence as traditional and advanced manufacturing companies respond to increasingly favorable markets for high-quality and innovative products.

Mayor Nutter named the following people as Co-Chairs of the Task Force: City Councilman Bobby Henon, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Daniel Fitzpatrick and AgustaWestland CEO Bill Hunt. “I want to thank Councilman Henon for his dedicated leadership on this issue and I look forward to working with this Task Force,” the Mayor said.

The Task Force members will be named in the coming weeks and will bring together manufacturing industry executives, policy experts and business leaders. These members will work with a consultant to develop an action plan that will encourage business growth and attraction as well as promote innovation. The City anticipates that these recommendations will help position the Greater Philadelphia region to compete for federal funding opportunities that will further boost the economy in the future.

“This announcement is the first step toward making Philadelphia and our region an epicenter for the new manufacturing economy in the state and nation,” said City Councilman Bobby Henon. “Manufacturing companies and the jobs that they provide will be the fuel that will drive our economy. We have a great deal of work to do, and I am excited about the opportunities that lay ahead.”

The Mayor’s Task Force will be comprised of up to 25 members appointed by the Mayor in consultation with members of City Council and leaders from within the manufacturing sector. It will be housed in the Department of Commerce.

“Through the work of this Task Force we will develop a strategy that strengthens Philadelphia’s identity as a home to manufacturing and positions us to attract the private sector investment and public funding opportunities that lead to job creation in our city,” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. “By convening leaders in city government, PIDC and the private sector, we have a real opportunity to lay out a sustainable framework for growth in manufacturing that will serve our economy for years to come.”

Dan Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and President of Citizens Bank – PA/NJ/DE, added, “I am very enthusiastic about the opportunity to help lead this Manufacturing Task Force initiative in the City of Philadelphia and our region. We are at a unique juncture in our economic history that has positioned this Greater Philadelphia region to cultivate and expand our manufacturing renaissance and grow jobs and skills in this vital sector. Our city and regional manufacturers have an opportunity to maximize our competitive advantages, from both a domestic and global perspective, due to the quality of our advanced, automated manufacturing capacity coupled with our ample, cost-effective energy supplies and our desirable location and related transportation hub.”

AgustaWestland Philadelphia CEO Bill Hunt said, "It is an honor to be invited to join this important Task Force as a co-Chairman. AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica Company, is ready and energized to support Mayor Nutter's initiatives aimed at facilitating regional manufacturing growth. Having been part of AgustaWestland’s significant expansion and transformation in this region, I know that there is great potential for our team to leverage our knowledge and experience for the benefit of the Philadelphia manufacturing community."

Nutter Creates Task Force to Pull More Manufacturing to Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With jobs in manufacturing on the rise across the country, Mayor Michael Nutter today created a task force to find ways Philadelphia can jump on that bandwagon.

Nutter signed an order creating a task force to look at new ways to lure manufacturing businesses to Philadelphia.

Among the co-chairs of the task force is Dan Fitzpatrick, the CEO of Citizens Bank, who said the region already has a lot going for it.

“We have automated manufacturing capabilities in great capacity in the city of Philadelphia and region,” Fitzpatrick said today.  “We have a cost-effective energy supply right now that creates competitive advantage.  And then also what we have is location, and a great transportation hub in this Greater Philadelphia region.  We have a tremendous opportunity to grow our manufacturing sector rapidly.”

The mayor also ticked off the area’s selling points:

“We can hold up Philadelphia for the manufacturing history that we have, the great location, access to rail, road, air, and certainly port.  So we think that we are positioned well to seek a number of different industries, and we need to be as aggressive and expansive as possible,” he said.

The task force will have up to 25 members and is to deliver its recommendations to the mayor by the end of September.

The task force will have four co-chairs. They are, besides Fitzpatrick, Bill Hunt, CEO of Agusta Westland, a helicopter manufacturer based in the city; city councilman Bobby Henon; and city commerce director Alan Greenberger.

Written by Mike Dunn for CBS Philadelphia January 15, 2013

Councilmen’s D.C. Mission: Philadelphia Manufacturing

In December 2012, Councilman Bobby Henon and Councilman David Oh traveled to Washington, D.C. to seek support for Philadelphia’s manufacturing industry.

The target for their visit was the relatively new White House Office of Manufacturing Policy.

The councilmen met with representatives of the Commerce Department, National Science Foundation and the Department of Labor to begin a long lobbying process for federal support for Philadelphia’s manufacturing companies.

The White House Office of Manufacturing Policy was created in 2011 to coordinate President Barack Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership and has the mandate to aggressively implement the administration’s priority manufacturing initiatives. The three major tenets of the President’s Plan to Revitalize American Manufacturing are (1) enabling innovation, (2) securing the talent pipeline, and (3) improving the business climate.

When Councilman Henon was running for council, he realized there were clean, advanced manufacturers operating in what would become his district — the 6th district, which generally includes Northeast Philadelphia.

He has said he feels strongly about the manufacturing sector, which are a bigger part of the fabric of city neighborhoods than many realize. Some manufacturers are not off in a warehouse district or down by the river, but within neighborhoods, employing city residents.

At first, Councilman Henon was skeptical of the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. He thought it may have been a stunt as President Obama was preparing for the 2012 election and “jobs” was one of the main buzzwords. This suspicion was bolstered by the Policy Office’s complete lack of funding.

Councilman Henon was already out looking for help. Flying to Chicago and Pittsburgh to speak with manufacturing policy groups, he was looking for guidance on how to do more than just talking about creating jobs.

Recently, the Policy Office received approximately $1 billion in potential funding to get serious about improving the U.S. manufacturing industry as a job creator.

Not surprisingly, this development convinced Councilman Henon to head to Washington, D.C. and meet with representatives of the Policy Office and other relevant federal administrations. He invited Councilman Oh along as he felt that this initiative merged well with Councilman Oh’s global efforts to bring more talented candidates and jobs to Philadelphia.

Councilman Henon now refers to his efforts as the Manufacturing Matters Initiative. He is already working with Mayor Michael Nutter and hopes to garner further support from his colleagues.

Councilman Henon believes that Philadelphia has the infrastructure to be an example to other cities as to what a flourishing manufacturing sector looks like. He will lobby hard to convince the Policy Office that Philadelphia’s growth opportunities are worthy of its support.

Councilman Henon hopes to have soon announcements clarifying the scope of the collaboration on the Manufacturing Matters Initiative.

Meanwhile, he continues his usual attention to the manufacturing sector with biweekly tours of city manufacturing plants. By Councilman Henon’s count, Philadelphia has more than 1,100 manufacturers employing more than 30,000 Philadelphia residents.

One of his major observations has been the technological advancement of some of the plants, which now utilize computers for detailed, real-time tracking of their efficiency and output. In order to operate these types of plants, workers who can at least operate basic technology are required.

“The biggest challenge, every manufacturer has said, is having an educated work force,” Councilman Henon said. He has met with the School District of Philadelphia as part of his Initiative and insists, “We have to be thinking big picture, not just public schools, but also community colleges” and other outlets for providing training to make Philadelphia residents competitive for manufacturing jobs.

The formula of supporting American companies to create jobs for American residents is as ubiquitous as any other political platitude. However, so many of these entities, such as the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy, are created to back up campaign promises but quickly disappear from the public radar.

Councilman Henon, along with the mayor and likely other private and public collaborators, is providing a firsthand view of city government fighting for those benefits for their residents.

His initiative started with knocking on doors in Northeast Philadelphia, trying to win his own election, and now added a new chapter with a personal visit to the nation’s capital.

It is hard not to be interested in where Councilman Henon’s efforts take him next.

Written by Timothy Holwick for Region's Business Journal on January 10, 2013

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