PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The City of Philadelphia and the Chamber of Commerce announced plans Wednesday to revitalize small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Mayor Jim Kenney along with other city leaders unveiled a newly created initiative called Ready.Set.Philly!, with hopes of promoting the safe return to Philadelphia for both work and play.
According to officials, "Ready.Set.Philly! is a collaborative initiative with the City, The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and a broad and diverse coalition of employers and organizations working together to provide reliable information and direction to encourage, support and promote the safe return to Philadelphia for work and play. This 12-month endeavor will harness the collective resources, knowledge and can-do spirit of Philadelphia to move the City from crisis to progress and reset the City for success."
"COVID-19 has changed our entire world, threatening the health of residents and the well-being of our city, including our small business owners, cultural institutions, and the hospitality industry," said Kenney. "As we ramp up our vaccination efforts and look towards a new normal for Philadelphia, the economic health and vitality of our community depends upon restoring jobs and on residents, workers, and visitors coming back."
There were signs of hope on Tuesday when the Marathon Grill at 16th and Sansom streets reopened in Center City for the first time since May. It's the anchor of a block shut-off for outdoor dining.
The Center City District said the reopening of Marathon shows the neighborhood is trending in the right direction, but there's still a long way to go.
A year ago, Center City's restaurant industry employed nearly 52,000 people. That number was about 29,000 as of February 2021.
"Now, our next goal, of course, is to get our office buildings open fully, safely, so we can get more people in the city," said Philadelphia Councilmember At-Large Allan Domb, who's also a real estate developer.
The Hyatt Centric Center City, located at 17th and Chancellor streets, opened mid-pandemic. This past weekend they were at 50 to 60% capacity with overnight guests.
Because of the timing of their grand opening, they have countless contact-free amenities. Those amenities might make the site more attractive to hold meetings and conferences.
Brian Lang, director of marketing for The Hyatt Centric and Hyatt Bellevue, said Tuesday's announcement by the city, possibly easing some restrictions come the end of April, will give them a boost in business.
"Now that we can have food and beverage, we think that's going to be the next thing that will encourage people to book meetings," said Lang. "First we ease the restrictions, then we need consumer confidence to book and hold the meetings."
Commerce Director Michael Rashid, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia Chair Susan Jacobson, former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Property Trust Bill Hankowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer of Brandywine Realty Trust Jerry Sweeney and Chief Administrative Officer of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau Angela Val are among the city leaders were also part of the morning announcement.
Learn more about Ready.Set.Philly!, here.