Hoping to catch what officials say is a growing wave of manufacturers creating and moving jobs back to the U.S., Mayor Michael Nutter on Tuesday created a Manufacturing Task Force to develop a “strategy to strengthen manufacturing in Philadelphia.”
“Manufacturing is alive in Philadelphia and will grow,” said the mayor at press conference at city hall. “It’s a major entity in Philadelphia’s economy, and crucial to our city’s growth and vitality.”
According to administration figures, there are 23,100 manufacturing jobs in Philadelphia with an economic impact of $1.3 billion.
The city, long known as the “Workshop of the World,” was once one of the nation’s centers of manufacturing, churning out locomotives, rail cars, textiles and thousands of other products. Manufacturing started to decline in the 1950s but officials hope to revive it in the 21st Century.
Philadelphia is competing against cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh to attract manufacturing companies.
Nutter also named four co-chairs to lead the group.
They were: city Councilman Bobby Henon, William J. Hunt, CEO of Agustawestland, Philadelphia; Daniel Fitzpatrick, CEO of Citizens Bank and board chairman of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger.
They will lead a group of up to 25 members that the mayor is expected to name in the coming weeks. When fully fleshed out, the group, operating in conjunction with the commerce department and city council, will draw up a list of recommendations and compile them in a report to be released in August.
Hopes are that the report will help revitalize the city and its residents.
“Manufacturers provide working class people with living wage jobs that enable them to put their kids through school and save a little bit,” Henon said.
He added that the nature of manufacturing has changed and that companies now use highly skilled employees, often in high-tech industries.
“They aren’t manufacturers like my grandfather would know,” he said.