Monday, December 22, 2014

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The soaring three-story CIM City lounge inside the new Comcast headquarters, with its couches, flat-panel TVs, Rock Band game gear, and chess tables, is the focal point for Comcast Interactive Media, the Philadelphia company's 800-employee Internet division.

 

Not content to dominate the cable industry, Comcast believes that a cool CIM division can loosen up the top Philadelphia company's accounting-oriented culture, and help speed development of new products for the Internet.

Collectively, the 100 companies in the Philadelphia region with the biggest market caps lost $108 billion in market value over the last year. The decline in Comcast Corp. shares accounted for one-quarter of that drop.

It has been a busy year in executive suites in the Philadelphia area, with some departures reflecting the tough challenges of the economy.

A year ago, high gasoline prices shocked shoppers out of stores. But retail imploded last fall when the stock market crashed. Merchants have been in a skintight squeeze ever since.

All companies reach for the top, but first they have to get off the ground, often by raising money from investors. That's harder to do in the worst economic downturn since the 1950s, but it is still happening. And the situation is not all bad.

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Children's will open its fiscal 2010 July 1 with a balanced budget - a product of extensive staff input and a badge of fiscal discipline that could help the children's health heavyweight attract top medical recruits.

Speeding things along has been a priority for senior vice president Suzanne Boda, hired early in 2008 to oversee a satellite headquarters here, and vice president Bob Ciminelli, who came on at the same time to run operations for the Philadelphia hub.

The bloodbath in Detroit hasn't trickled over to Subaru of America Inc., with headquarters in Cherry Hill, which posted a slight increase in car sales for 2008 and gained its highest market share ever.

Bundles of federal stimulus dollars are earmarked to make school cafeteria food more nutritious and school buildings more energy-efficient.

 

Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. stands to benefit from that windfall and from new efforts by schools to economize - if it can convince supervisors that a for-profit enterprise will act in students' best interest.

Wawa's merchandise sales actually grew last year, although the growth rate is down. "We're doing OK," said Howard Stoeckel, chief executive officer of the privately held convenience-store chain. "We're not up to historic averages, but we're performing better than the vast majority of retailers."

 

He credits a strong focus on value and a concerted effort to make the time a customer spends in the neighborhood Wawa a respite from economic gloom.

A five-year, $82 million project to replace seven bridges over the Vine Street Expressway will also remodel the cultural spine of the city.