I am a 7th generation Philadelphian, a graduate of Philly high school, and now an entrepreneur growing a software business here in the most underrated city in America. I hear a lot of people say negative things about building businesses in Philly, but by and large, most of these critics aren’t from here and haven’t started or run a business. But let me tell you: Philly is an amazing place to build a business, and here are 14 reasons that prove it beyond all reasonable doubt.
1. Location, Location, Location
Philly sits at the center of the center of the giant NE Corridor Megalopolis and is a quick train, flight, or drive from NYC, Baltimore, DC, and Boston. The West Coast has the weather, but I love being right in the middle of hustle central, and the NE Corridor is where we find the majority of our clients.
2. The BEST Startup Community
Philly Startup Leaders is the group that Philly’s startup scene organizes through and within. The PSL listserv is a vital communication channel for the Philly tech/startup scene, and it’s used by entrepreneurs (and those that love them) to exchange notes, get feedback on their businesses and ideas, and to organize. I have met more people that I now consider friends via PSL than via almost any other means (meetup.com & the Drupal community also vie for #1).
3. Smartypants People
Philly is awash in young (and young at heart), smart, and talented individuals. My favorite part about my job is getting to work with 30+ smart, passionate, and caring professionals, many of whom we have trained into their current roles and career paths. There may be fewer people with experience in the specific skill sets needed by companies, but that’s why you should do what Zivtech does: build your team’s tech talents by “growing your own."
4. Loyal Employees
I don’t know another part of the country where employees are more loyal, especially if you invest in their personal lives and career advancement. Retention is a key reason we can invest so much into training and staff development, and without it we wouldn’t have been able to grow.
5. Commercial Real Estate
Back when I worked at Parsons Fashion School, I literally worked in a closet. (Gratuitous name drop: yes, I worked with Tim Gunn.) Work space in NYC and Boston is absurdly expensive, and workspace in the DC area is expensive (and it’s in Washington DC or even worse, Northern VA).
6. Taxes & Death
I hear a lot of people complain about taxes, and of course taxes suck. But, while at first glance the city and state may seem to have some pretty hefty tax rates, there are many state and local tax breaks that can help reduce those burdens significantly. Some of these include the Keystone Innovation Zone, Research & Development, and Job Creation Tax Credits.
7. Financial Assistance
8. Department of Commerce
While many of Philly’s government departments and agencies are in need of serious overhaul and modernization (*cough*L&I*cough*), Philly’s Department of Commerce has been super awesome from where I sit. We received funding via their StartUp PHL “call for ideas” grants that funded part of our Philly Dev Camp, a free web development Bootcamp we organized in 2014. Startup PHL is also a big supporter of Amplify Philly.
9. Our Chamber is Kinda Awesome
While the National Chamber of Commerce can seem downright evil, the Philadelphia-Area Chamber of Commerce is a great organization and has under its umbrella some of my favorite organizations in the Philly area, including PACT, the Arts & Business Council, and Select Greater Philadelphia. Oh, and they can also help you get affordable insurance for yourself and your employees.
10. The Best City Living
The biggest reason that I have my business here is because I love living here. I live in Fairmount and walk up and back along the gorgeous Parkway every day. Oh, you have an acre of a backyard? How nice for you. I have museums, boathouses, and the world’s largest inner city park system. I love the Quaker ideal of keeping open spaces for contemplation in “nature.” The lack of open spaces in NYC drove me absolutely crazy for the 8 years I lived there.
11. The Food Scene
I love a good (chicken) cheese steak as much as the next Philadelphian (current favorite: Cleavers), but that really is the tip of the iceberg. I sometimes get sad when I see Philly Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list, because I know I’ll never get to half of the places, and the list could easily be 100. That list doesn’t even count the majority of low cost food, like the entire Reading Terminal, the city’s many farmers markets, the ice cream and gelato, the chocolates, the breweries and beer gardens, or the food trucks. I need a snack.
12. The Sounds of Philadelphia
Philly has one of the of the most amazing music scenes in the country. Thanks to Sean Agnew and R5 Productions, Philly has been hosting independent up and coming bands for years, and there are now an amazing array of live venues of all sizes all over the city. There are also an amazing number of talented musicians, bands, promoters, producers, and DJs who call Philly home.
13. Family fun!
Within a walk or a short bus ride from my house are: playgrounds, spraygrounds, the nation’s oldest Zoo, the Please Touch Museum, Smith Playground, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, and the Academy of Natural Sciences. It’s not hard to keep your kids entertained.
14. We the People!
Want to know how great Philly is? Just ask someone from Philly. I constantly try to play the amateur tour guide for any family and friends (and their friends), and I compulsively try to help any tourists I find wandering the city. We may be brusk (you got a problem with that?), but while we wear our hearts on our sleeves, I’m sure that you’ll find that we’re really friendly.
Okay, that’s not an exhaustive list at all, but I picked the number 14 and sticking with it. Come visit Philly and I’m sure you’ll find even more reasons to love the city and start a business here.
This post originally appeared on Medium.