Philadelphia Commerce Guide

Philadelphia is the fifth most-populous city in the United States and a significant business hub. The city’s economy is diverse. The Old City is home to many locally owned businesses in the fashion, design and art sectors. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange has been in operation since 1790 and is the oldest one in America. Philadelphia is the host of several Fortune 500 companies, including CIGNA Insurance, Comcast, Lincoln Financial Group, energy company Sunoco, Crown Holdings Incorporated, pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth, chemical makers Rohm and Haas Company and FMC Corporation, automotive parts retailer Pep Boys, Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, and food services company Aramark. The Urban Outfitters and the University of Pennsylvania are the largest employers in the city. Philadelphia is a large college town, with around 50 higher educational institutions.


The federal’s government presence is also strong, with the Federal Reserve Bank and the U.S. Mint located in the city. Philadelphia is also one of the nation’s centers of law. The Pennsylvania Railroad, now under the name Amtrak, continues to influence Philadelphia’s economy. Finally, many pharmaceutical companies, medical schools, and medical technology companies are located in and around Philadelphia, making the city the nation’s healthcare capital. According to statistic data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Philadelphia area is the seventh largest metropolitan economy in the U.S. with a total gross metropolitan product of $347 billion in the year 2010. The city’s economy has shifted to a service based and an informational technology economy. Among the activities that account for the largest sectors in the metropolitan economy are the education and research and the financial activities


Starting a small business in Philadelphia


The Mayor Nutter organized a task force for the purpose encouraging manufacturers across the Philadelphia region. The government investment can have a great impact on a major industrial city. Philadelphia strives to maintain its presence on the world stage. Investment can bring more industrial activity and more jobs to the city. The transport infrastructure in the city will also be improved and updated.
For people who have an interest in starting their own small business in Philadelphia, there are many opportunities out there waiting to be exploited. There are also many organizations in the city that encourage the small enterprise sector:


  • Wharton Small Business Development Center. The Wharton Center is part of Penn’s entrepreneurial hub and provides free consulting and educational programs for existing small business as well as for new startups. Small businesses can take advantage of the Center’s financial advice and technology consulting.
  • SCORE Philadelphia. This is a non-profit association partially funded by the Small Business Administration. They provide consulting, seminars, research and other services to any small business in the region.
  • Small Business Administration. This is a government agency. The local branch of the SBA organizes workshops and other similar assistance for small businesses in Philadelphia. The provide help in navigating the world of federal contracts or securing financing and getting government grants.
  • Tech Meetups. The Tech Meetup site and other dozens of similar sites have made the trend explosive over the last few years. The meetups offer the possibility to meet with other business owners and exchange information or get some advice.
  • Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The organization offers many useful classes on business management, taxes, or technology.
  • Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center. This group provides training, consulting, and education services to the manufacturing industry.
  • Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. This department of the local government oversees the implementation of the city’s sustainability plan called Greenworks Philadelphia. The city mayor is committed to make Philadelphia the most ecologically friendly city in America by the year 2015. The program sets targets in areas of environment, energy, economy, equity, and engagement.
  • Philadelphia Department of Commerce. The department sets policies to help major corporations and small businesses. They coordinates activities for large business attraction and retention, for increasing the number of minority owned businesses in the city, and major real estate development projects.
  • Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. The organization represents over 400 local companies and individuals working together to build a green, just, and thriving economy in the region. They provide resources for local companies that want to improve their profitability, as well as their social and environmental impact.


The city of Philadelphia is rich with opportunities for creating a sustainable business environment. Among the city’s assets are included regional farms and food sources, walkable business corridors and neighborhoods, a word class public transportation system, and the government’s will to create a greener city. There are many online networks of companies and regional business associations that can share their expertise in implementing sustainability business plans. For instance, B Lab is such a nonprofit organization dedicated to solve social and environmental problems through the power of business. They created an useful management tool, called the B Impact Assessment. The tool allow companies to asses they impact on the stakeholders and to improve their social and environmental performance by using the tools of best practices. The resource section of the organization’s website provides links to information and hot to guides about how to achieve these goals.

The section can be accessed at
For those businesses in Philadelphia that need to revamp their commercial mixed used buildings, there is over one million dollars financing available from the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, and the Hyperion Bank. In order to apply for financing the requirement is to have a vision for making your building more energy efficient. The Greenworks Rebate program is available to small enterprises and provides up to 50 percent refunding of the retrofit costs.

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With its educated work force and diversified economy, Philadelphia offers numerous business opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises. The city is host of research centers, higher education institutions, medical schools, big pharmaceutical companies, medical technology companies, and manufacturing industries.
The city of Philadelphia strives to keep its position in on the world stage and encourage environmental friendly and sustainable initiatives. There are governmental programs and local organizations that help the local business owners with resources, financing, partnerships and business initiatives.