In 2020, 10 years from now, a lot of baby boomers will be retiring, if they haven't done so already, and the young people now in their late 20s and 30s should be moving to leadership in Philadelphia. So what will be the business climate be like when they are in charge? That was the question a group of about 70 or 80 people in that age group addressed on Monday night as part of a week-long session titled "Imagining Philly's Future" sponsored by a group known as "Young Involved Philadelphia." Yes, they are the YIPs.
Not sure how young you have to be to be a YIP. I was one of about a half dozen non-young there (looking for ideas for my group, "Not Dead Yet" Philadelphia to distinguish ourselves from SCP -- Semi-Comatose Philadelphia).
Some themes came up:
Too many silos in Philly -- silos by race, by neighborhood, and by business sector.
Philly is too risk-averse, especially when it comes to early stage venture capital.
Philly doesn't have enough big businesses that can spin off talented executives and innovators the way Microsoft has and the way Franklin Mint once did (the result, among others is QVC).
Philly is closed to outsiders: The same homey, stable feeling that is one of Philadelphia's attractions is also one of its failings because the innovation and percolation from outsiders doesn't get a chance to move through tight, years-long webs of friendships, impressions, reputations and connections.
More emphasis on improving education in Philadelphia, especially in teaching entrepreneurship, with the idea of fostering opportunistic and entrepreneurial behavior.
Asking a university to take the lead in applied research -- turning the good ideas generated by the region's treasure trove of academic researchers into real businesses.
More positive thinking about the city's assets, which are many.
The festival goes on a few more days and a grand gong-show like finale.
What impressed me the most was the incredible diversity in the room. Gave me hope for the future.