First, maybe a bit of good news: We think we might be this close to going out on a limb here and saying that Philly’s longstanding Brain Drain might be approaching a state of remission. Anecdotally, within the admittedly bubble-ish world of the creative class, we see things daily that say this to us. Friends seem to be relocating less; at this point, most of the people we know who don’t have jobs probably don’t deserve to have jobs; every week, something new opens; shit, even Byko is not homeless yet, which is just like, wow. This city is still, in parts, a horror show of poverty, but at the very least, we do not seem to be hemorrhaging people who might be able to help with that at the rate we used to.
Here’s the thing, though: We might be DIY-ing the shit out of things or having Comcast or Urban Outfitters pay for our urban dreams, but it can’t go on forever, unless we get back to that place where people with Real Deal Big Money lived here. Oh, but they did once! And as you know, they do not anymore. The U.S. Census just published this list of areas with the highest concentration of wealth, in which Philadelphia comes in 21st. That would be great if Philly was, oh, I dunno, Anchorage or Honolulu, which it’s squeezed between on the list, but no, this is not Don Ho or Sarah Palin territory. This is a pitiful display.
And why? As Phils fans said some years back, why can’t us? This is big ideas territory. This is the fifth or sixth largest media market in the country. This place is sexy and funky and weird and wet money should be sticking to all of us as it blows down the city streets. But it’s not. And while we can cast blame in this case pretty easy — the traditional Philly power structure, where the unions and high school football captain like-duh pols have strangled this place for at least five decades — maybe it’s time we just appeal directly to the rich people and dreamers alike:
Yo, Rich People: Come here. Do business here. You’ll have the time of your life and people will work so hard for you, they’ll make you cry. Seriously.
Dreamers: You’re already here. Whatever your thing is, tighten it up. And it’s not just about you: An entire city wants and needs you to succeed.