Forbes in Philadelphia

In 2014 Philadelphia played host to Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Summit.” I didn’t attend, but I did see it come up in a number of friend’s social feeds over the course of the multi-day event. Forbes released its annual 30 Under 30 list last week, and with it word that Philadelphia will be the permanent host of the annual summit.

This is another win for Mayor Nutter who apparently played a significant role in swaying Forbes’ decision. Obviously it’s a larger win for Philadelphia. Why?

  • “The October conference featured talks and appearances by big names from business and the political realm, including former America Online chairman Steve Case, Spanx founder-billionaire Sara Blakely, onetime White House intern-turned-scandal-figure Monica Lewinsky, and teenage Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai.”
  • “‘It reached 750 million people over social media,’ [Forbes editor Randall] Lane said – a measure that includes Twitter and Facebook shares.”
  • “…having successful young entrepreneurs from elsewhere make connections with local ones could pay off many times over if it leads to a local business’ growing or an outside one’s deciding to plant stakes in Philadelphia.”

I distinctly remember a conversation from 2011 with a friend who had just moved from Colorado. “Why,” he asked, “do so many people I meet here make a point of telling me they’re ‘natives’—not just of the city, but even of the county and town? I’ve never experienced that before.”

Anecdotally I think there’s a lot less mobility across Greater Philadelphia than in other major metro areas. And for a city its size, it has the challenge of a much higher rate of urban poverty than its peers. These things can create insularity, which among young people and professionals can lead to lowered ambitions simply because broader relationships might not form that otherwise would broaden personal and professional horizons.

Which is why maybe the greatest reason Forbes’ decision is promising is for this small note in the article: “Additionally, dozens of attendees – rather than only a handful last year – would be invited to speak at schools across the city.” I’m planning to attend this year.

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