Greater Philadelphia's Rich Quality of Life Attracts Talent
History, culture, diversity, intellectual engagement – such assets define Greater Philadelphia as a cosmopolitan center of commerce, a vibrant and evolving region with much to offer.
History, culture, diversity, intellectual engagement – such assets define Greater Philadelphia as a cosmopolitan center of commerce, a vibrant and evolving region with much to offer. The region is a magnet for thought leaders, civic-minded professionals and members of the creative class from all over the world. “I truly believe that Philadelphia is experiencing a resurgence as a great city, a world capital,” says Dr. Neil Theobald, who moved to Philadelphia in January 2013 to become the 10th president of Temple University. “My family and I have always loved Philadelphia. It was one of the biggest factors in my decision to join Temple University.” There is plenty to love about Philadelphia. On Theobald’s list are the Philadelphia Orchestra and Opera Philadelphia as well as the city’s excellent museums and many fine restaurants. “I have to note how much I love baseball in this city,” he adds. “The Philadelphia Phillies are the oldest continuous one-name, one-city franchise in the sport. To a baseball lover like me, that’s pretty impressive!” Center of Higher Learning A nexus of higher learning, Philadelphia not only attracts the brightest minds, it produces them. “I believe that institutions of higher learning play a big role in the city’s excitement. We produce some of the finest minds in the country. Every year, our campuses are home to thousands of academic symposia, new research projects and live performances. We are more than just a source of education – we are a place that the whole city comes to for groundbreaking ideas and intellectual engagement,” Theobald says. Philadelphia New Leaders Council It was, in fact, higher learning that first brought attorney Samantha Dunton-Gallagher to Philadelphia in 2007 to attend law school at the University of Pennsylvania. Contrary to her original plans, Dunton-Gallagher says, she realized quickly that she was falling in love with the city and would become a long-term resident. Drawn to public-interest work, 28-year-old Dunton-Gallagher participated in the New Leaders Council, an organization that trains and supports those interested in nonprofit work. “It is a very interesting mix for me – the city and what it provides,” she says. “You have this great mixing pot of intellectual diversity and culture and art, these great law firms and great companies and this thriving economy, but no matter what you do in your day, you can’t get away from the great need that the city has. It keeps me grounded in my interest in public service.” Dunton-Gallagher appreciates Philadelphia’s proximity to New York and Washington, D.C., but also enjoys being close to the countryside and having access to locally grown food. “I am also quite a fan of jazz, and there’s a nice jazz scene here,” she says. NY-Delphians In an article for Philadelphia magazine, author and journalist Susan Gregory Thomas – herself a recent transplant from Brooklyn to Philadelphia – wrote about what drew her and numerous other, as she calls them, NY-Delphians. Affordable real estate and lower cost of living overall, designer shopping and independently owned restaurants ranked among a list of factors. But, Thomas’s article asserts, “It’s not just the bourgeois accoutrements that draw us. Rather, it’s Philly’s energy. Things seem possible here.” She further notes that new tax laws make the city friendly to small business, and “an emerging business culture … seems to operate on the Malcolm Gladwellian principle of ‘co-nnectors’ – people who network to help each other succeed.” The upshot of the piece was that New Yorkers migrating to Philadelphia find beauty, diversity, hope and possibility here. Pioneers on the Urban Frontier But regardless of where they come from, the entrepreneurs and chefs, artists and writers, civic leaders and educators, scientists and business people who come to Philadelphia find a rich quality of life here. “The greatest challenges and opportunities in 21st-century America are primarily playing out in urban settings," says Temple University's Theobald. "Rather than leaving this city for the Western frontier as the pioneers of old did, today’s pioneers come here to explore this urban frontier.”