Lots of advice for Nutter to reform business climate

This had been the week that the Mayor’s Task Force on Tax Policy & Economic Competitiveness was originally due to provide its recommendations on how to improve the business climate in Philadelphia.

However, Mayor Nutter has given the 17-member group an extension to Oct. 15. (Will Pennsylvania and Philadelphia have their budgets settled by then?)

But if you just can’t wait to read a report that tells city officials what they should do, but have lacked the will to pursue in the past, I recommend the Committee of Seventy’s “Tackling True Reform” report.

While the watchdog group certainly hopes that its call to pursue innovative policies inspires public officials to act, I found the examples of bureaucratic inertia and political muscle-flexing providing new reasons for businesses to think twice about locating in the city.

The report really is a challenge to Nutter to wield the reformer’s sword he flashed so effectively during his campaign.

The mayor still seems to receive enthusiastic applause when he drops in on business events. But, as the Committee of Seventy writes, Philadelphia is “no more business-friendly than it was during the years when John Street - who was often perceived as being anti-business - was mayor.”

Steel Yourself

Concord Steel Inc. has closed its factory in Essington, Delaware County.

The company had announced a layoff there earlier this year, but its business, which specialized in making steel counterweights, was walloped by a drop-off in orders from customers in the infrastructure, construction and residential sectors.

Warren, Ohio-based Concord filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 on Monday. The move came after the manufacturer had gutted its workforce companywide by 75 percent over the last 18 months, cut salaries, and tried to modify its credit agreement.

Concord, which was bought by Stamford Industrial Group Inc. for $45.2 million in October 2006, said it eliminated 93 jobs by closing the Essington factory at the end of August and making permanent previously temporary layoffs at its plants in Ohio and Illinois.