In 2013, the Economy League and the CEO Council for Growth released the Global Positioning Strategy (or GPS) for World Class Business Growth in Greater Philadelphia. This Business Growth GPS outlines goals, priority strategies, and key indicators to help focus and guide cross-sector collaboration to boost business growth throughout our region. The GPS is the culmination of a multi-year regional priority setting and strategy development effort facilitated by the Economy League that has engaged more than 1,500 cross-sector leaders across our region.

Business Growth GPS

New and growing businesses fuel a dynamic regional economy that builds on Greater Philadelphia's industry and research strengths and connects to global opportunities. 

The Agenda

World Class Strategies

  • Strengthen entrepreneurial networks

  • Increase availability of growth capital

world class strategies

  • Support cluster-focused talent development
  • Connect industry and universities to drive technology transfer

world class strategies

  • Advance the region's position as a hub for global business
  • Market the region's business assets and success stories

The Latest

A Fab Model for Entrepreneurship

    • weldingclasslarge nextfab new

Governor Wolf's 2015-16 Budget Proposal and the World Class Agenda

    • gov wolf address flickr credit to tom wolf governor

The Economy League assesses how Governor Wolf's recently-proposed state budget aligns with the priorities and strategies identified in the World Class Greater Philadelphia agenda.

How Immigrant Entrepreneurs are Driving Growth in Greater Philadelphia

    • italian market credit photo by r kennedy for visit philadelphia
More Posts

Current Campaign

    • Exports, Freight

Regional Exports

Despite more than 80 percent of global GDP growth projected to occur outside the U.S. between 2013 and 2018, only five percent of American companies currently export and, among those that do, 58 percent export to only one market. These numbers underscore the significant opportunity for Greater Philadelphia and other U.S.…
More Posts

Starting & Growing Businesses

New Businesses

While Greater Philadelphia has lagged behind peer metros in new business creation, the number of establishments in the city of Philadelphia grew by 16% between 2008 and 2012.

Read More

Net Change in Number of Businesses by County (2008-2012)

    • New Businesses Map

Starting & Growing Businesses

Venture Capital

In recent years, Greater Philadelphia has seen an increase in both the number of venture capital deals and the amount of venture capital invested per year. However, the value of the average deal in our region today is less than half the average deal nationwide.

Read More

Average Value of Venture Capital Deals (1995-2013)

Starting & Growing Businesses


While Greater Philadelphia has the fewest entrepreneurs per 100,000 residents of the 10 largest US metros, our region has seen the second-highest average annual growth for this measure over the last five years.

Read More

Entrepreneurs per 100,000 Residents by Metro Area (2009-2013)

Starting & Growing Businesses

Small Business Employment

Greater Philadelphia's 2.7% decrease in small business employment between 2008 and 2012 places our region near the bottom of the pack compared with peer metros. Within the region, Philadelphia was the only county to see small business employment growth during this period.

Read More

Growth in Small Business Employment by County (2008-2012)


Federal R&D Funding

Between 2008 to 2012, Greater Philadelphia received the fifth-largest amount of federal R&D funding ($4.8 billion) among the 10 largest US metros.

Read More

Total Federal R&D Funding Awarded by Metro Area (2008-2012)


Technology Transfer

Although Greater Philadelphia had the third-largest number of technology transfer licenses issued between 2008 and 2012, the region ranked 5th in licensing revenues.

Read More

Technology Transfer Licensing Revenues by Metro Area (2008-2012)

Selling to the World


In 2012, exports represented 9.0% of our region's economic output, ranking Greater Philadelphia as the 7th most export-intensive metro among the 10 largest US regions.

Read More

Export Share of Regional Economic Output by Metro Area (2003-2012)

Selling to the World

International Visitors

Despite a slight decline in recent years, international visitation to Greater Philadelphia has grown sharply since 2006. On average, approximately half of overseas visitors come to the region from Western Europe.

Read More

International Visitation to Greater Philadelphia (2003-2013)*

Making an Impact

wc circle template 1 png

wc circle template 1 png

Philly Startup Leaders

Started in 2007, Philly Startup Leaders is among the youngest and most dynamic organizations devoted to strengthening entrepreneurial networks in Greater Philadelphia. With a primary focus on technology and connecting startups with information, inspiration and a community of peers, Philly Startup Leaders holds events such as the annual Entrepreneur Expo and Founder Factory, which bring together hundreds of area entrepreneurs and investors, and manages an active listserv with a following of 2,000. Read More >> 

Read about other efforts that are making an impact in business growth in Greater Philadelphia >>

Developing the Business Growth GPS

During the first half of 2012, the CEO Council for Growth and the Economy League brought together a 36-person Business Growth Strategy Team to identify and build consensus around a prioritized set of strategies for our region. The business growth vision and aspirational goals for Greater Philadelphia presented in the Economy League’s Focus 2026 report framed this group’s work. The World Class Business Growth goals evolved from the Focus 2026 report and focus on building on cluster strengths, fostering entrepreneurship, leveraging academic and research assets, and connecting to global business opportunities.

To support the Strategy Team’s work, the Economy League summarized current research related to key drivers of success for growing regional cluster strengths, fostering entrepreneurship, cultivating innovation, and spurring international business and completed an analysis of current business growth assets, challenges, and opportunities specific to our region. Key regional assets and strengths supporting business growth in Greater Philadelphia included strong core regional characteristics, existing and emerging industry clusters, robust higher education and research institutions, and emerging entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems. Major challenges facing the region include the overall business climate and culture, financial resources, fragmentation, regulatory and political obstacles, workforce skills and quality, and weak regional brand.
Following identification of these regional assets and challenges, the strategy team discussed the strategies that would best position Greater Philadelphia for business growth success over the long haul. Out of the dozens of potential approaches or ways of attacking business growth, the strategy team reached consensus on six mutually reinforcing priority strategies that would provide the most promising path to achieving the 2026 Business Growth goals. The six priority strategies are seen as being at the intersection of addressing crucial needs and capitalizing on current assets and opportunities in Greater Philadelphia. They focus on strengthening entrepreneurial networks, increasing availability of growth capital, supporting talent development in key clusters, spurring technology transfer and commercialization, elevating the region’s international business connections, and marketing the region’s business success stories.
The recommendations that emerged from the Business Growth Strategy Team’s intensive and collaborative work serve as the basis for this GPS. As with organizational strategic plans, this GPS does not go so far as to lay out detailed tactics, but rather identifies the types of strategies and collaborative efforts that offer the greatest impact and “bang-for-the-buck” to make progress toward shared goals. The priority strategies presented in this GPS point toward opportunities to support and scale existing efforts in our region to maximize impact, as well as areas where new initiatives and investments are needed. It sets the stage for immediate initiatives to be taken on by World Class partners and provides a framework for ongoing research, monitoring, and strategy adjustment by the Economy League.
As an open-source regional strategy framework, it is expected that this GPS will evolve over time and serve as a living document that can be updated to accommodate input from additional regional stakeholders or shifts in the economic landscape. The ultimate success of the GPS, however, will be measured by the extent to which regional leaders and organizations align behind its goals, metrics, and strategies and develop and implement work plans guided by its recommendations.