Philly is going global, and that means more than you think - Generocity Philly

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Jul. 15, 2015 1:00 pm

Philly is going global, and that means more than you think

The mayor is looking toward sealing Philly as a World Heritage City

Mayor Michael Nutter is visiting Germany this week to establish a new Sister City relationship with the city of Frankfurt, Philadelphia’s first new Sister City in 23 years.

Then he’s headed to Tel Aviv to meet with companies interested in creating a presence in Philly. That’s fresh off of a trip last week to Mexico, aimed at establishing closer ties with Mexico and its fourth largest city, Puebla.

These trips could mean a lot come this fall during the Global Philly 2015 expo, which could determine if Philadelphia becomes the first World Heritage City in the United States.

What does being a “World Heritage City” mean?

In 1972, UNESCO adopted the “Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage,” which provided for the inscription of natural or cultural sites on a “World Heritage List.” Numerous such sites have been inscribed on the list in succeeding decades and a few are in the United States. The sites in the U.S. tend to be natural sites, with the exception of Independence Hall, which was inscribed in 1979 as a cultural site.

Twenty-one years after the adoption of the Convention, delegates from 58 participating cities met in Fez, Morocco and founded the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC). Recently, the Secretariat of the OWHC recommended that one of the organization’s by­laws, which had designated that World Heritage Sites constitute an “area” within potential member city’s boundaries, be formally amended simply to require that a World Heritage Site exist within the potential member city. This would allow Philadelphia to be eligible to become a member, which it wasn’t able to do before, since Independence Hall takes up such a small “area” of Philadelphia.

The combined diligence of the Global Philadelphia Association and the City of Philadelphia paid off in late 2013, when Philadelphia was granted the status of an Observer Member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities, a stepping stone toward full membership.

The leadership of the OWHC has made it clear that it would like to have the city join, and if Philadelphia does so, it will become one of over 260 World Heritage Cities across the globe.

Building ties with Mexico

Just last week, Nutter was in Mexico with the goal of  establishing closer ties with the country and its fourth largest city, Puebla.

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“Philadelphia is a global city built by generations of people who immigrated to this country and to this city,” said Mayor Nutter before his trip earlier this month to Mexico. “We’ve now identified the City of Puebla as a direct partner for future cooperation…the future growth of Philadelphia’s economy will be directly correlated to our ability to create ties with cities around the world.”

Developing closer ties with Puebla makes sense, given that a significant number of Philadelphia-area residents came here from Puebla and its surrounding towns. The Mexican consulate in Philadelphia said that more than 18,000 people from the Puebla region received passports or consular ID’s between 2008-2014 and came to Philadelphia. In addition, the Pueblan community has played a significant role in growing small businesses in Philly, particularly in the Italian Market area.

“With a bilateral Pennsylvania-Mexico trade of about $6.7 billion last year, Mexico is one of Pennsylvania’s main trade partners, and we are confident that we can develop an important relationship for the City of Philadelphia,” Mayor Nutter said. “We also know that the City of Puebla has the potential to be an excellent economic partner for us.”

Frankfurt, Sister City of Philadelphia

Mayor Nutter’s trip to Germany this week will establish a new Sister City relationship with the city of Frankfurt, Philadelphia’s first new Sister City in 23 years.

Last year Frankfurt’s Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann traveled to Philadelphia, and both mayors agreed to establish a Sister City relationship in order to foster economic, educational, and cultural partnerships between the two cities. During this week’s visit, Mayor Nutter will participate in a signing ceremony with Mayor Feldmann and U.S. Consul General Kevin C. Milas.

“Frankfurt is one of the world’s great global cities and I am proud that Philadelphia will now count this great German city among its closest partners,” Nutter said.  “These trade missions help to raise Philadelphia’s international profile and send the message that Philadelphia is a welcoming city for innovative, international companies.”

Business in Tel Aviv

Following two days in Frankfurt, Mayor Nutter will travel to Tel Aviv in Israel, a Sister City to both Philadelphia and Frankfurt. There he will meet with a range of local companies interested in establishing a U.S. presence with the help of Israeli companies that have already committed to move to Philadelphia.

He will be supported by a number of Israeli companies that have already made a commitment to invest in Philadelphia including:

  • Pango, a mobile technology company which will open an office at Pipeline Philly and will partner with the Philadelphia Parking Authority;
  • Pico, a photo sharing technology company participating in the DreamIt Ventures program;
  • PhysiMax, a healthcare technology company opening a Philadelphia office which was part of a October 2014 delegation to Philadelphia, led by leading Israeli investor Chemi Peres at Mayor Nutter’s invitation;
  • Simlat, a drone technology company which is seriously considering a Philadelphia presence and which Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger met with during the Mayor Nutter’s November 2013 visit to Tel Aviv;
  • WeWork, one of the world’s largest network of co-working spaces with space in Tel Aviv which is opening a 30,000 square foot co-working space in Philadelphia at the Piazza in Northern Liberties later this year.

In addition, Mayor Nutter will meet with an Israeli delegation of life sciences company representatives, two water technology companies, a transportation-related technology company, a group of leading Israeli venture capitalists, and a number of cyber security companies.  He will also visit SoSA TLV, one of the leading startup communities in Israel.

Sealing the deal

Besides giving Mayor Nutter a beautiful trip on the tail end of his term, these trips could mean a lot for the growth of Philadelphia.

Global Philadelphia, which is a major proponent of the World Heritage City designation, is creating an campaign to push Philadelphia forward onto the global cultural stage. As a World Heritage city, Philadelphia would garner a big boost in tourism and the local economy, among other benefits outlined in Global Philadelphia’s recent bulletin.

Image via Global Philadelphia’s World Heritage report

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