Philadelphia Makes First Venture Capital Investment

The City of Philadelphia (through subsidiaries and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation) has made its first equity investment in a company, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The investment is for $200K in Real Food Works a firm that is a subscription food service that delivers healthy meals for people interested in dieting and eating healthy.  It seems to be kind of like a Netflix for healthy, real food.

The fund is called Startup PHL, and First Round Capital.  First Round is a venture capital firm that is managed by Josh Kopelman – a long time internet entrepreneur and investor – who manages investment decisions for Startup PHL.  This type of activity is great for cities and local businesses looking to grow.

I would love to see this type of investing backed by (or a small part of) city-based exchange traded-funds (as I have written about before).

Philadelphia Federal Reserve Graduate Student Research Forum

On Tuesday October 22, 2013, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve held the first annual Community Development Graduate Student Research Forum.  The Department of Community Development Studies and Education at the Federal Reserve sponsored the event, which featured six paper presentations ranging from land value models of vacant city owned property to the importance of religious institutions in community stability.  Presenters came from Penn (my classmates!), Temple, Rutgers-Camden, as well as professional presentations from local CDCs, the Philadelphia Association of CDCs, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The event offered me the opportunity to meet a number of like minded researchers, community development practitioners, and graduate students.  I look forward to continuing the relationships in community development research that the Philadelphia Federal Reserve has fostered across different institutions and practice boundaries!

Check Out My New Article @PlannersWeb

Check out my article at PlannersWeb on jobs for young adults.  Titled, “It’s All About Jobs” the article is part of the Across Generations: Young and Old series, which is a year long conversation on planning issues related to young adults and seniors.  Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur,  of the AARP and fellow Across Generations columnist, reacts to the article.

Think About Community Assets Differently

After a recent visit to New York City’s High Line Park, I spent some time thinking about how communities could make similar transformative investments in public space.  In fact, in Philadelphia, at the Callowhill Reading Viaduct, a community group is working to renovate an elevated rail line into a similar park.

2013-10-05 13.35.27(Photo is The High Line Park, near the Standard Hotel and Chelsea Market)

The landscape design and beauty of the High Line have already been well documented, and many places do not have the resources to recreate the High Line.  Recreating very similar interventions may be difficult, impossible, or forced in other places.  The thinking and community visioning are possible everywhere though.

What communities can do is take a look at their community differently.  For many years, the High Line was an abandoned elevated rail that blighted the community, and some explored demolishing the structure.  Instead, a small group of visionaries saw a different future.  Many communities have some overlooked space or white elephant property that can be re-imagined and turned into an asset.    All it takes is creativity, vision, and hard work to implement the idea!


Article on Planning for an Aging Population @PlannersWeb by Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur

Check out the article on planning for an aging population at titled “Great Places for All Ages” written by Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur.  I respond to Jennifer’s article at the end.

It is the first article in a series, “Young and Old,” on that I will be a co-columnist on with Jennifer.  We will have a year long conversation on planning issues related to senior citizens and young adults, so stay tuned!

MOOC for Urban Planning Update #cplan

The University of Pennsylvania School of Design will be offering a massive open online course titled, “Designing Cities.”

The course starts on October 7, 2013 and runs for ten weeks.  Renowned urban designers Gary Hack, Jonathan Barnett, and Stefan Al will lead the course offered through Coursera.  It will cover designing for population growth, rapid design change related to natural disasters, and how to make cities more sustainable and livable.

Texas Technical Colleges to Receive State Funding Based on Students’ Post Enrollment Earnings Starting 2015

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that starting in 2015, state technical colleges will receive funding based on the post enrollment wages that students earn.  (Link requires subscription – if you don’t have one, your library may have one!)  Traditional funding metrics like degrees granted, credit hours taught, and total enrollment will be out the window (just for these technical colleges).  Instead, funding will be given out based on how much students make afterwards.  Students who complete about three classes will be considered in the formula, not just degree earning students.  This model will ensure that short term certificate students are also considered.

Some are concerned about how state funding will account for other issues related to unemployment – particularly local structural unemployment or cyclical unemployment.  While valid concerns the leaders of the technical colleges sound up to the test saying, “[T]he major thrust of what we do is employability.  It doesn’t scare us.” (Michael Reeser, the system chancellor – reported by Eric Kelderman in the article linked above).

Earlier this summer, Oregon considered parallel plan, where university students would pay off tuition as a percentage of their income – no matter how high or low – for a number of years after graduation.  Under the Oregon proposal, a bachelor’s degree earner would pay about 3 percent for 20 years.