Friday, December 26, 2014

Take your pick: Phila. is either No. 10 or No. 308

As a place to do business, Philadelphia is often criticized. Two new studies take another look using different ways to measure it.

Take your pick: Phila. is either No. 10 or No. 308

I love top 10 lists and rankings of the biggest, the most profitable and the most valuable companies.

But sometimes rankings make you scratch your head, especially when they’re based on an index of several factors.

On Monday, two different organizations conjured up different pictures of Philadelphia as a place to do business.

First, the Web site of Inc. magazine listed Philadelphia as one of the worst cities in which to do business as part of its annual ranking the hottest cities. (Midland, Texas was the best place overall for business.)

How did the editors determine this? It’s by employment growth rate, and that should tell you that Philadelphia would have trouble gaining ground. Its employment base has been shrinking for years.

Of the 335 metropolitan areas it ranked, Philadelphia was stuck at No. 308.

Among 66 large cities, Inc. magazine tapped the Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina area as the hottest for business. The Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn area of Michigan was the worst. Philadelphia was No. 62, better than Providence, R.I., but worse than Rochester, N.Y.

States in the South and West dominate the 20 hottest cities, as determined by Inc. Only New York breaks that trend when it pops up at No. 22.

The second ranking was by KPMG International, and it calculated a “tax index” for 21 U.S. cities with populations of more than 2 million. I feared the worst, but Philadelphia did better than I expected. It was No. 10 - ahead of Boston, but behind Denver.

KPMG says its tax index is a measure of the total taxes paid by corporations in a location and industry, expressed as a percentage of total taxes paid by similar corporations in the United States.

Still Philadelphia’s total tax index of 101.9 was below the U.S. national average of 100, so I’m not sure the Commerce Department wants to be trumpeting the results. In fact, KPMG said Baltimore, our neighbor down I-95, had the most favorable tax structure for business in the United States, save for San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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