Minority Firm Wants To Partner With Verizon In Philly

As Verizon argues its case for a cable franchise television franchise today in a City Council committee hearing, another company is tuned in, looking for a piece of the action.  Wilco Electronic Systems Inc., a minority-owned firm based in Fort Washington, wants Council to push for their inclusion in the Verizon franchise.

Brigitte Daniel's, Wilco's executive vice president and daughter of founder Will F. Daniel, said her firm met with Verizon in February to talk about working together.  "I think they were chewing on it," she added.  But Wilco found out about the proposed Verizon franchise -- negotiated over five months by the Nutter administration and submitted to Council about a month ago -- from newspaper stories.

According to federal law, the city can't require Verizon to include a minority firm in the franchise.  "They can encourage it," Daniel said.  Wilco's founder was an investor in one of the city's first cable television franchises.  The firm now serves about 6,000 properties for the Philadelphia Housing Authority.  Wilco has hired Sharif Street, son of former Mayor John Street, to lobby Council.

Councilman Darrell Clarke, who sponsored the legislation for the Verizon franchise, said he encouraged Wilco executives to attend today's hearing.  "I get a sense that Verizon is interested in providing some opportunities to Wilco," Clarke said.

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