Chicago-based company invests $225 million into Philadelphia, plans to diversify the trades industry

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- You may have remembered a refinery explosion that later led to the shutdown of Philadelphia Energy Solutions.

After filing for bankruptcy in 2019, the old refinery now has new ownership, along with big plans to diversify the trades industry for Philadelphia youth.

A Chicago-based development agency has since purchased the site to create a first of its kind initiative called a Career-Connected Learning System.

"Hilco Redevelopment Partners in its self is an eco-friendly company," said Jasmine Sessoms, senior vice president of Hilco's corporate affairs. "We go, and we take blighted spaces and make them into something better, greener, and a real economic engine for the cities that we're in."

Sessoms looks to lead this recruitment effort that pledges to connect thousands of Philadelphia public school graduates to an estimated 30,000 jobs in the fields of logistics, distribution, and with guaranteed opportunities after a year-long apprenticeship.

This initiative also includes exclusively recruiting 150 Philadelphia public school students each year.

"It will not be a refinery. That's the most important thing," said Sessoms. "We are looking forward to making a green space, and especially some sustainable initiatives."

This project comes in the form of a valuable ten-year tax cut, Sessoms says, as the program has proven to be a multimillion-dollar asset for the city.

Also, producing as a fully green eco-friendly company that neighboring residents and environmentalists requested be brought into the old refinery's land space.

Sessoms said, "Over that ten years, we do want to be a multi-motto logistics center...we want to bring really good companies here and create jobs, a sustainable wage and assist essentially with our GDP here in Philadelphia."

For Hilco, the $225 million investment is seen as a generational return versus a fast one.

By having multiple logistic tenants on-site, faster transportation access for product distribution, and the workforce investment into the public school system, Sessoms says that this initiative is a real economic game-changer for the city.

"It's not a South Philly project...this is good not just for Philadelphia but our whole commonwealth as a whole. We are truly looking forward to building the next workforce of Philadelphia," she said.

Hilco projects the official launch of this new development in spring 2021.
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