Leadership agenda: Fitzpatrick on a six-cylinder economy

Daniel Z. Fitzpatrick, Citizens Bank president for the tri-state area, at Citizens Bank Park. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

Maybe it's because it was getting close to lunch because my Leadership Agenda interview with Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, Citizens Bank president for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, was turning to restaurants. That's when Fitzpatrick, who is also chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, surprised me by pivoting from restaurants to the Philadelphia economy.

"The fact that we have great restaurants is a wonderful thing, but we can’t be just a hospitality town," Fitzpatrick said, pointing out that hospitality jobs don't tend to pay as well as jobs in many other sectors.

"The truth is that our legacy speaks to the fact that we have [manufacturing] capabilities," he said. "What’s interesting --- in a lot of ways, the Philadelphia regional economy is misunderstood. We’re fortunate to have the great medical and life sciences and higher education industry that we have. We have to continue to cultivate that and invest in it. But what we can’t forget... I use the analogy that you’re a car – you're firing on four cylinders and you have six. Wouldn’t you really rather fire on six?

"So what we’re firing on now are eds and meds (colleges and hospitals), and there’s still opportunity for improvement there. [We have] hospitality because of our history and culture. But why not manufacturing again? Not that it’s gong to create 50,000 jobs, but if it provides 5,000 jobs, each manufacturing job is associated with five or six other jobs -- the job-multiplier effect. And generally, the pay, by any statistical analysis, is far higher than the median."

Click here to read Monday's blog post/confessional by Fitzpatrick.

Just in case you are reading this near lunchtime, Fitzpatrick's favorite cheesesteak is Steve's Prince of Steaks -- not surprising that a Northeast Philly guy, now living in Newtown, Bucks County, would pick a neighborhood steakery.