Innovation Philadelphia announced its first investments to support the creative economy the same day that the mayor signed a budget containing no funding for the city-supported organization.

Innovation Philadelphia made loans totaling $150,000 to Brown Partners, a minority-owned advertising and communications firm, and DreamIt Ventures which runs a “business boot-camp” for start-up firms.

They were picked from more than 50 applicants for funding through its revolving loan fund, called the Creative Economy Investment Fund.

Executive vice president Kelly Lee said the fund demonstrates how serious Philadelphia is about encouraging the growth of design, entertainment, media and other “creative” enterprises.

Investing money in private companies is nothing new for this city agency. Its Economic Stimulus Fund made about a dozen investments, including putting $100,000 in a Conshohocken start-up called TurnTide Inc. in 2004.

Several months later, the huge security software company Symantec Corp. bought TurnTide for $28 million. That one deal returned $600,000 to Innovation Philadelphia. Such home runs don’t come often.

Founded trying to nurture “knowledge-based economy,” Innovation Philadelphia has narrowed its ambition to be the advocate for this area’s creative economy.
I question whether this collection of businesses needs one. To me, the Philadelphia region is home to too many economic development organizations.
The city said Innovation Philadelphia’s functions will be handled by the city’s Commerce Department in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Lee said Innovation Philadelphia, which now has eight full-time staff members, has been trying to line up funding from sources other than the city. She wouldn’t name them until the check was in hand.

Innovation Philadelphia has been relentless in getting its message out. I’ve probably received more newsletters, studies and e-mail updates from it than any other economic development agency.

Perhaps Lee will raise the money she needs. But if July 1 spells the end of Innovation Philadelphia, I won’t miss it.