Letters Extra: Land-bank reform critical

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City Council President Darrell Clarke, left, and Councilperson Maria-Quinones Sanchez reched a deal on the land bank. (Staff photos)

As City Council negotiates the final details around a Philadelphia Land Bank ("Philadelphia Could Make History With Land Bank Plan," Nov. 25th), it's important they stay focused on a key goal of this historic reform: transforming our vacant and blighted properties into opportunities for jobs and economic growth.

Philadelphia's 93,000 small businesses are important drivers of our economy, providing over half of private sector jobs. But our current broken land acquisition and development process stands in the way of the start-up, prosperity, and expansion of these important stakeholders. Right now, a business owner who wants to transform a vacant property is encountering bureaucratic barriers at every step. Those barriers send a message that private investment is not welcome here.

Despite the deterrents, the 400 business members of the Sustainable Business Network have made significant investments in Philadelphia, and their work is paying off. Our city is growing a unique local business culture, and new sustainable businesses are attracting private capital and providing jobs.

We need our city's leadership to take us to the next level of our economic future now, and City Council has no choice but to get this right the first time.

So as City Council deliberates over the final version of the legislation, we implore them not to take their eyes off of the prize - a Land Bank that welcomes private investment in Philadelphia because it is effective, transparent and accountable.

Jamie Gauthier, executive director, Sustainable Business Network, Philadelphia, jamie@sbnphiladelphia.org 

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