Building Philadelphia for the Next 100 Mayors

ByErin Dwyer Harvard, Director, Government Affairs, GBCA WPVI logo
Tuesday, October 3, 2023

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- This year, 2023, is a major year in Philadelphia politics. We will be electing our 100th mayor who will lead and steer our diverse and unique city over the next four years.

This mayor, possibly Philadelphia's first African-American female mayor or the first Asian American mayor, will be stepping into power at a crucial time in our city's growth.

As we continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, there's positive momentum on several fronts to build an even stronger city.

Now is the time to fuel, not stifle, Philadelphia's growth through responsible development, job creation and safety initiatives, and to lay the groundwork that will see Philadelphia through its next 100 mayors.

A Growing City

Since the days of William Penn, Philadelphia's growth has relied on a pro-building environment. Executing Penn's plans for the city required the expertise and oversight of the Master Builders from the Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia as early as the 1720s..

In the mid-1900s, famed urban planner Edmund N. Bacon, known as "The Father of Modern Philadelphia," developed Market East, Penn's Landing, Society Hill, Independence Mall and other defining areas of the city for Philadelphians and visitors alike.

Building has been and remains a vital pillar of Philadelphia. New construction enables world-class organizations and over 1.5 million residents to call Philadelphia home.

Although new development is vital, restoring and preserving our historic structures is equally as important to the fabric of our city.

The General Building Contractors Association's contractors-many of which have been building our skyline for over 100 years-range in expertise, but each builder relies on well-funded city departments, particularly Licenses & Inspections, Revenue, and City Planning, and a tax structure that's friendly to ongoing economic development.

Elevating Philadelphians

Despite all it has to offer, Philadelphia is currently the poorest big city in the U.S. with the highest poverty rate among large cities.

However, we can improve our city's economic status with leadership that supports family-sustaining career opportunities for all Philadelphians, whether they pursue higher education or go right to work. Union construction provides that opportunity.

Beyond ensuring building quality, union construction jobs are a proven way for hard-working Philadelphians to support and grow their families.

Raising awareness of these opportunities and their growth potential must start with developing Career Training Education (CTE) in schools and union pre-apprentice and apprentice programs.

Encouraging and supporting meaningful careers in the construction industry is a priority for the General Building Contractors Association (GBCA). We, along with our partner organizations, believe we need a champion in city leadership to promote and encourage residents to take advantage of these opportunities.

Living, Working, and Playing Safely

For Philadelphia to reach its full potential both now and in the future, it must live up to its moniker as the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

It must be a place where everyone can live, work, and play without fear of violence - a place safe for adults and children, for long-time residents and newcomers, and for homes and businesses alike.

Each mayoral candidate is under the microscope for their approach to reducing crime. The key to change is to create effective systems and opportunities that give rise to safer neighborhoods and public transportation.

It is to provide access to job opportunities, bustling public spaces, and affordable recreational opportunities and afterschool programs for youth. For Philadelphia to be safe, we need the public sector and the private sector to work together. GBCA's members are ready and willing to support any building needs associated with these efforts.

For Future Generations

At GBCA, our member companies-330 of the most well-respected union commercial contractors in the region-have been building Philadelphia for generations.

We have shaped our skyline, neighborhoods, commercial corridors, healthcare and higher education institutions, recreational venues, and more.

And we are committed to building a city that will serve many generations to come. With a mayor who embraces this opportunity, Philadelphia will reach monumental heights.

Erin Dwyer Harvard, GBCA's Director of Government Affairs, leads public policy and advocacy efforts on behalf of the Philadelphia's region's most skilled and trusted construction professionals.

Learn more at gbca.com.

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