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Economy League Releases the World Class Index as Part of the World Class Initiative

July 11, 2014 Category: Uncategorized


Robert J. McNeill, Economy League Chair, speaks at the World Class Summit

On Wednesday, July 9, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia hosted the 2014 World Class Summit and leaders from every sector of social impact were in attendance. Each year this gathering is the forum for sharing research in topic areas that they call World Class Global Positioning Strategies (GPSes): education & talent development, business growth, and infrastructure. Structured around these areas, the World Class Summit provides a forum to developing shared goals, priority strategies, growth and collaboration.

The World Class initiative launched in 2009, and this year’s summit coincides with the release of the World Class Index, a framework for tracking progress around the World Class agenda.

“It’s a core part of the overall World Class effort,” said Steven T. Wray, executive director of the Economy League. “We want to make sure we’re holding ourselves accountable, and that we’re able to demonstrate both what we’re doing and how far we’ve come or how far we have to go.”

Overall observations

The World Class Index is focused on improving economic growth and expanding opportunity for the Greater Philadelphia area, and it is transparent in its picture of the major obstacles that must be addressed in the overall improvement of the region. Both encouraging and dismal information is provided on the World Class Index website.

Education & talent development

Pre-K Access was a heavily covered topic, in coordination with the Economy League’s partnership with Pre-K for PA. Other related areas of research include: Early Literacy, College and Career Readiness, On-Time Graduation, Disconnected Youth, Degrees & Certificates Awarded, Educational Attainment, Poverty Rate, Labor Force Participation, and Median Income.

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In terms of talent development, the Economy League has partnered with Talent Greater Philly to track educational attainment and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey for talent development and education initiatives.

Business growth

Likewise, the Economy League has partnered with the University City Science Center and the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia  in the area of business growth to promote action. The indicators in this section are: New Business, Venture Capital, Entrepreneurship, Small Business Employment, Federal R&D Funding, Technology Transfer, Exports, and International Visitors. According to the index, “While Greater Philadelphia has the fewest entrepreneurs per 100,00 residents of the 10 largest US metros, our region has seen the second-highest average annual growth for this measure over the last five years.”//

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The concept of infrastructure in terms of the World Class Index focuses on Greater Philadelphia’s access to routes of international trade and travel, and convenient and reliable connections other markets. Passenger Air Connections, Intercity Rail Ridership, Global Port Connections, Transit Ridership, Transportation Choice, and Transportation State of Good Repair are all indicators. Additionally, the World Class Index covers Water Distribution Efficiency, Electric Reliability, and Open Space Acreage as measures of Philadelphia’s overall infrastructure.

Philadelphia has the second worst record for efficiency in drinking water systems, according to the American Water Works Association. The Economy League showcased Philadelphia Water Department and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission as key players in keeping Philadelphia at the forefront of these topics.


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Moving forward

The World Class Index website, which will be updated on an ongoing basis according to the Economy League team, has a wealth of information to be mined, evaluated, and used for action.

While many of these statistics may not be surprising to the people involved in direct service, the assessment and digestable format of the information serves up the data in ways that may help with interpretation and direct action.

Now that this information has been parsed and presented, the question that remains is to what end this information will be useful. will continue to track the progress of the World Class Index and its implementations within social impact.

Infographics via World Class Greater Philadelphia

Correction: A previous version of this article listed Philadelphia as being the best at efficiency in water systems. Philadelphia is second worst in efficiency after Washington D.C.


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