City Studies: Philadelphia: No Brotherly Love for Entrepreneurs

No Brotherly Love for Entrepreneurs

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The city of Philadelphia is governed by the ordinary things one finds in American cities: a mayor, a city council, various bureaucracies. But it is also governed by something else: the word "no." At nearly every level, Philadelphia’s city government and related bureaucracies operate with a one-word vocabulary; whatever the question is, the answer is "No." In field after field after field—from zoning to permitting to occupational licensing—would-be entrepreneurs hear that answer time and again.

“As things stand, the mission of the city’s various offices and bureaucracies appears to be to stymie the creation of new businesses wherever possible.”

But as anyone who has ever spent time around a toddler can attest, a one-word vocabulary quickly wears thin—and in this (as in many things) what is tolerable in a toddler makes for terrible public policy. Saying nothing but "no" eventually yields exactly what one would expect: nothing.

And nothing, unfortunately, is what Philadelphia has to look forward to unless it begins to reshape its approach to entrepreneurship.  Read More...

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