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Philly Low on List of Country’s Best 100 Cities for Entrepreneurs

Benjamin Franklin, arguably Philadelphia’s most famous resident, reportedly once urged his contemporaries: “Work as if you were to live a hundred years.”

Philadelphia apparently didn’t get the message.

A new WalletHub survey of the “best large cities to start a business” ranked Philadelphia 85th among the 100 cities reviewed. That places it below cities such as Chesapeake, Va., Omaha, Nashville, and Henderson, Nev.

David Oh, an attorney and former Republican city councilman now running for mayor, said of the city’s entrepreneurs, “Those who can leave, leave.”

“Those who can start their businesses elsewhere,” he said. “And so we have that reduction. But with the vilification of entrepreneurs, which has happened over the last few years, our communities are actually electing people who vilify small business, big business, (and) landlords.”

City leaders “vilify businesses and help, you know, make things very difficult for business owners,” said Oh. “Lots of regulations that are unnecessary, penalties and things like that.”

Neither Mayor Jim Kenney nor Gov. Josh Shapiro responded to requests for comment. Shapiro campaigned in part on bringing new jobs to the state.

Kathryn Elliott, a professor of the practice of entrepreneurship and director of the Center of Entrepreneurship at High Point University, said state and local authorities “can stimulate business growth by creating a safe yet more small business-friendly legal environment, investing in the business and entrepreneurial training, reduction of bureaucratic red tape, and lastly encouraging networking collaboratively amongst businesses and investors locally and statewide.”

Oh said residents “can’t buy a soda without paying a tax in Philadelphia” (though, he claimed, heroin is easily accessible). He said the city is levying “more and more taxes” on those who have stayed behind.

“It falls upon the poor because they hear the rich are going to pay for it, but they end up paying for it. And it creates a big problem.

“I, for example, introduced bills to try to level the playing field to bring employers, large employers, to Philadelphia. My colleagues (on city council) don’t support it because that’s tainted as corporate welfare, whereas these employers go to other places because it’s more competitive.”

Michael Omansky, associate professor at the School of Business at Felician University, agreed that cities need to reduce taxes.

“They need to keep their fees down, as well as taxes at lower revenue levels,” he said. Also, officials should offer incentives for job creation and “not get in the way of the entrepreneur,” he argued.

Oh said that the city’s considerable number of taxes—a “wage tax,” a “gross receipts tax,” and others—have produced very little value relative to their cost.

“The schools, the education system, is doing very poorly,” said Oh. “So your base workforce is having a problem in terms of when you try to recruit employers here. We have a wonderful college and university system, so that’s not a problem.”

“But overall, it’s the instability of Philadelphia,” he said. “The taxes are unstable, and the business climate is unpredictable.”

The number one city choice for entrepreneurs, according to WalletHub, is Orlando, Florida, a state led by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. In fact, the top four slots went to Florida towns: Jacksonville, Miami, and Tampa, followed Orlando.

Pennsylvania’s second-largest city, Pittsburgh, came in at 96.

WalletHub’s methodology included business environments, resource access, and business costs. The analysis did not include the suburbs of the surveyed cities.

The website also used 19 metrics and gave those “weighted” importance. They included the population’s education level, taxes, capital availability, and office space cost.

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As Philadelphia Goes, So Goes the Delaware Valley?

Why should suburban residents care about Philadelphia’s next mayor?

David Oh, a Republican running for Philadelphia mayor, said spreading crime is one reason. Economics is another. The city remains the major economic force in the area, and what happens in Philly ripples through the entire Delaware Valley.

“Philadelphia is a very important economic engine for this state, and it most dramatically impacts our surrounding counties. And for people in the suburbs, they oftentimes…experience the ability to enjoy a suburban lifestyle and yet go to the Eagles game, go to live entertainment in the city, go see the museums, enjoy what’s there in a big city while living, in a nice suburban setting,” said Oh, a lawyer who grew up in Philadelphia and served on the city council until stepping down to run for mayor.

“Unfortunately, they probably are not going take public transportation into the city like they used to, or they may not even drive into the city. It’s very difficult to have such a great amenity for them as universities and research and hospitals and all that great stuff in our city that you cannot visit and go out to dinner and things like that.”

“The other thing is that the crime in our city impacts our surrounding communities. One, unfortunately, crime imitates crime. People out in the counties start seeing the things that are happening in Philadelphia, and they emulate it.

“They also come into our city, and unfortunately, so many people who are addicted to heroin and things like that end up not just coming to our city but living here for years at a time (with) their parents and their loved ones trying to find them.”

“They’re only attracted to Philadelphia because we have the most hands-off policy where drug-addicted people end up in the most inhumane conditions on Kensington Avenue because of the policies of the city. That is to let them purchase their drugs, to let the drug dealers exist. And, by the way, the drug dealers (are) murdering each other because of so much money that is there,” said Oh.

Paul Martino, a Bucks County resident and owner of the new Philadelphia sports bar Bankroll, agrees that crime is a major problem for the city.

“Crime is one the primary issues facing the city of Philadelphia. Many suburbanites refuse to come to the city to visit its businesses, historical and cultural locations as a result. This is why people from Bucks and Montco are following this year’s Philly mayor’s race much more closely than prior years,” said Martino.

Jeff Jubelirer, vice president of Bellevue Communications, said, “What happens in Philly affects everyone in the region, albeit in different ways.  When suburbanites have a negative perception of Philadelphia – whether fair or not – the implications are tangible.

“They work, play, and visit the city, and their tax dollars and spending contribute to its betterment. Therefore, engendering confidence among suburbanites constitutes a critical task for Philadelphia’s next mayor,” Jubelirer said.

Guy Ciarrocchi, former president of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry and a former Congressional candidate, likes Oh.

“He’s a good guy. Has really grown into his role—understands issues, how government works (and doesn’t) and focuses on people, not grandiose policies or ideology,” said Ciarrocchi, who grew up in South Philadelphia.

“We care not just in a good government or humanitarian way like I hope the drought in Sudan ends, because it impacts our quality of life,” Ciarrocchi said.  “It affects the growth of our economy—the companies that support and interact with major Philadelphia companies. And bad economics, bad schools and rising crime eventually come into the bedroom communities of the suburbs.”

“And, its also about our overall quality of life—from the zoo to the Franklin Institute, from the orchestra to the stadiums—as traveling to an annoying Philadelphia is a part of the reason many of us live in the suburbs—a car ride or train ride away.

“A growing, vibrant Philadelphia helps our economy and quality of life, A shrinking, decaying Philadelphia does the opposite.

“David can help by winning—or, at a minimum, being the grown-up and the kitchen-table candidate making sure that the campaign is about fighting crime, having good schools and helping businesses create jobs, rather than focusing on plastic straws and defunding the police,” said Ciarrocchi.

Albert Eisenberg, a political consultant and founder of BlueStateRed, also believes that Philadelphia and its mayor are important to the health of the suburbs.

“Suburban voters, and voters from across the state, should care very much who is elected mayor of Philadelphia,” said Eisenberg. “The city is the economic and cultural driver for our entire state, and with issues like crime spilling over the city line, higher taxes on business owners, and building a city and region that people actually want to move to, that will affect regular people in the collar counties as well. People should keep a close eye on David Oh and his campaign for mayor, especially with some very far-Left candidates with the potential to come out of the Democratic Primary in May.

Joyce Koh, of Bala Cynwyd, donated to Oh’s campaign. She believes a vibrant Philadelphia is with its diversity of arts, culture and food is “vital” to the suburbs.

“The city is like the warmth of the the sun,” Koh said. “If our sun is dying, our suburbs will fail.”

Mark Ruhl, a Chester County resident who supports Oh, said, “What goes on in the city affects the suburbs. We used to go into the city more but we stopped going in because we don’t feel safe any more.”

“And then we see, for example, when, when the lawlessness goes from Philadelphia out into the suburban areas, carjackings, you know, all kinds of shootings,” said Oh. “The thing about the crime today is it is traveling, traveling from the neighborhoods where it used to be contained, into Center City, into some of the nicer neighborhoods of Philadelphia and out into the suburban areas.

“We really need to stop that because the thing is, we have to stop the next generation and the following generation of violent criminals that is being created here in Philadelphia, because of really bad policies,” Oh said.

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GIORDANO: Next Mayor’s Race Is An Inflection Point for Philly

I hosted six Democrats and one Republican running for Philadelphia mayor on Talk Radio 1210 last week. A listener from Delaware County tweeted at me, “Totally awesome format! I am not a resident of Philadelphia, but I live in DELCO, so what happens there affects me.”

Public safety was the key issue that I raised with the candidates. If you live in the suburbs but work or play in Philadelphia, you want to feel safe when you visit the city. Under the current administration and District Attorney Larry Krasner, no sane person feels safe.

Maybe, more importantly, the lawlessness in Philadelphia is bleeding into the suburbs. Abington Police Chief Pat Molloy is often on my show. He tells me that since the Philadelphia City Council, supported by Mayor Jim Kenney, passed the Driving Equality bill, Abington officers are making many more car stops for vehicles with no registration and often with illegal guns and drugs.

The premise of the bill is that cops can’t be expected to stop people of color for motor vehicle violations relatively. Therefore, for a significant number of violations, they are to write down the license plate information and send a ticket in the mail. A mayor concerned with public safety would veto a bill like this.

A Philadelphia mayor concerned with public safety would also remove Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw from her position.

Outlaw was hired because Kenney promised to put a Black woman in that position. I don’t see any clear plan from Outlaw to turn things around, and according to several sources, the morale in the police department is very low.

Only Democratic candidates Derek Green and Jeff Brown said they would remove Outlaw, and Republican David Oh would replace her with a former or current member of the Philadelphia Police Department. Allan Domb told me he believes Kenney tied Outlaw’s hands. On a very positive note, a candidate said to me off the record that former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsay would be in charge of public safety if that candidate were elected. That would be a tremendous development.

My biggest disappointment was that the candidates did not seem energized by my argument that Philadelphia needs at least a thousand more cops, and the current police salaries are not moving the needle. I argued that we need to increase wages a great deal more but also need to develop a campaign using athletes, celebs, influencers, etc., to say that being a cop is a great, noble profession.

This problem of recruiting cops is not just confined to Philadelphia. David Kennedy, president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, wrote in the Pittsburg Tribune that when he applied to be a state trooper in 1995, he had to compete for the position with 10,000 applicants. Last year he reported that last year the Pennsylvania State Police had only 1,000 applicants.

I don’t recall any widespread issues with the state police, but it indicates progressive critics’ tarnishing of the profession. This trend cannot continue without putting every citizen at risk.

I’m still hopeful that even though I say deficiencies in the candidates, every one of them would protect Philadelphia better than Jim Kenney. The candidates in descending order that I trust the most to get a handle on crime are David Oh, Allan Domb, Cherelle Parker, and Amen Brown.

Former Councilperson Helen Gym declined to respond to our invitation. If she is elected mayor, Philadelphia will become more lawless and violent. The phrase “inflection point” is often overused, but this mayor’s race result is clearly an inflection point.

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GIORDANO: David Oh Has a Plan to Win the Philly Mayor’s Race

I’ve known Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh for about 20 years, and over that time, I’ve attended 100-plus events where he has been in attendance.  He has been a guest on my show on many issues and is known as a voice of sanity in the middle of the day-to-day insanity that grips Philadelphia. Can this problem solver actually become the next mayor of Philadelphia?

Oh joined me in the studio this week after announcing he is running for mayor. We discussed the fact that the last Republican who served as mayor in Philadelphia was a child when Billy the Kid was alive. The last viable Republican candidate for mayor was Sam Katz, who ran against John Street in 2003. And since 2003, Philadelphia has become a lot more radicalized.

Oh said that the increasingly progressive nature of city leaders is why he believes he can win. Oh  has a tremendous following among immigrant groups from Asia, West Africa, Ukraine, and others. He told me that in addition to the concerns these residents have about public safety, they often question why Philadelphia doesn’t enforce all kinds of laws while, at the same time, city officials overregulate shop owners and other law-abiding citizens.

Oh believes that this coalition of people numbers around 50,000. And, added to others who want a return to sanity, he could defeat a Democrat nominee like radical former City Councilwoman Helen Gym.

I think it’s still a long shot but I’m intrigued by much of what Oh told me. For example, when discussing public safety, Oh said that he would replace police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw with someone who formerly was or currently is a Philadelphia cop. This would go a long way toward restoring department morale and pushing back against the idea that the Philadelphia Police Department is a corrupt and brutal organization.

We also talked about why Kensington has been allowed to become a nationally and internationally known dumping ground that Mexico featured in public service ads to warn their citizens about illegal drugs. Oh responded that Kensington reflects the progressive mentality of arrogantly and irrationally declaring that addicts have the right to violate laws to feed their habits. He would make arresting drug dealers a top priority and use drones to identify these dealers.

I was impressed by the fact that Oh, an honored veteran, would appeal directly to tens of thousands of military veterans living in Philadelphia, many of them disabled. We discussed that few, if any, political leaders in Philadelphia are veterans.

Oh believes a massive mail-in ballot campaign will be part of his winning strategy. Given the facts on the ground, it’s good to see Republicans embracing and executing good mail-in ballot operations.

Oh discussed SEPTA, arguably the worst public entity in our area. He told me that as mayor, he would challenge that transport agency’s funding and demand a litany of reforms. He said much the same thing about the equally troubled Philadelphia public schools.

David Oh is a very thorough and detailed-oriented person with his own base of support. If Gym is the Democratic nominee, he will present a clear choice of sanity versus increased misery for Philadelphia. If another Democrat is the nominee, Oh still would be a viable choice.

Is it possible that Philadelphia could actually return to reason?

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David Oh: Defying the Status Quo As He Considers Philly Mayor Race

Ten candidates are running to be Philadelphia’s next mayor. But David Oh, Republican councilman-at-large, said he believes there is room for an 11th.

Oh, who serves as the minority whip and chair of the Committee on Global Opportunities & the Creative/Innovative Economy, wants to be the change Philadelphia needs.

“I want to challenge the status quo of this city.” Oh said.

Growing up in southwest Philadelphia in an African American community, Oh has fought for justice on behalf of all Philadelphians. Running from Ukrainian events to visits with the Haitian community and functions with Chinese organizations, he is a ubiquitous presence in the community.

“He’s everywhere. He tries to help the citizens no matter how small the ask,” Yolanda Bryant, 47, an independent working for the advocacy group Faith said. Oh helped her family find justice after a criminal raped her granddaughter. “He will always make time to hear you out. He’s a man of honor,” she said.

During his tenure on city council, Oh has fought for many issues, with reforming the public education system at the top of his list.

“Frankly, what is going on in public schools is unconstitutional,” Oh said.

He acknowledges the need to emphasize the record-high crime that plagues the city.

“Crime is the number one issue,” Oh said. But there is a stark disconnect in this city between some neighborhoods and the criminal justice system.

“It is not the kid getting shot who is calling the shots,” Oh said. City officials must intervene to instill more faith in the criminal justice system.

“Who do politicians serve? Those who vote.”

He said he would seek to bridge the gap between different populations in Philadelphia.

Oh also pointed to job creation opportunities, highlighting other cities’ innovations. He sees no reason why that cannot be the case in Philadelphia. In Oh’s view, no area is more important than the arts and culture. It’s a $4 billion industry that brings in $224.3 million in state and local taxes. And it’s a segment of the economy that is overlooked.

“People want to be somebody and a city that doesn’t provide an opportunity is a city full of unhappy people,” Oh said.

Oh created PHL LIVE Center Stage as a city council member, a free platform for musicians who may not have enough means to earn a living.

“Sometimes you have to tell them they are not good enough, but that’s ok,” Oh said. He sees great value in this economic engine and this love of music which can provide a prosperous career.

Oh has shown resilience throughout his career. Losing his first two bids at city council in 2003 and 2007 did not deter Oh.

“Trying is running three times,” Oh explained. In 2011, the former U.S. army member narrowly defeated former mayoral candidate Al Taubenberger for the final seat, a historic win, becoming the first Asian American to be elected to the city council.

The United States has a complex history with Asian Americans, which Oh attributes to the beginning of the California Gold Rush and certain individuals scapegoating Asian Americans for the downturn of the U.S. economy. Although the COVID–19 virus has not helped alleviate the tension, Oh says it is nothing new.

“It is just new experiences. People have been vilifying Asian Americans for a long time,” Oh said.

Oh is not new to Philadelphia politics. He served on former Mayor Ed Rendell’s transition team, as an assistant district attorney, as well as on Gov. Tom Ridge’s trade mission to South Korea.

During his time as a city council member, Oh has fought the Department of Human Services (DHS) over what he deemed “inhumane removal of children,” trying to engage with the attorney general. As a veteran himself, Oh has also created legislation that would provide a tax credit for employers who hire returning veterans with $15,000 off their business taxes over three years.

Oh is a firm believer in the Republican Lincolnian philosophy of equal rights and having a government that does not dictate our lives. He acknowledges the party’s weaknesses in Philadelphia, classifying himself as an independent Republican.
“I’m not interested in political parties. Neither party is perfect,” Oh said.

Oh’s campaign may have to contend with a 2011 brouhaha in which he overstated his credentials by claiming he was a Green Beret, infuriating many military veterans. He apologized at the time and said he should have used the term “Special Forces” for the unit in which he served in the Army National Guard.

Though he has not formally announced a run for mayor, it appears he is ready to dive into the crowded race. Oh is aware it will take the support of people from all demographics if he is to win, as he vowed to support all Philadelphians.

Although Oh knows that people will oppose him,  he shrugs it off.

“That’s politics,” he said.

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