Philly Creative Guide

Guest Columnist

Kelly R. Lee

Philadelphia's Technology-Driven, Creative Economy:
by Kelly Lee, 1 Apr 2008

Innovation Philadelphia is a non-profit economic development organization that is working to establish the Greater Philadelphia Region as a national leader and world-class destination for Creative Economy industries, businesses and talent.

Innovation Philadelphia leads regional efforts to attract and retain young professionals, ages 25-34, who are vital to fueling our workforce and economic growth.

Learn more about their efforts, here:

Innovation Philadelphia recently released preliminary findings from our new study that measures the size, scope and impact of the for-profit, creative economy. The study shows that creative industry employment within the Philadelphia region generates a total annual economic impact of nearly $60 billion in total spending which includes $32.5 billion in total earnings and supports a total of 766,000 jobs – ranking the for-profit creative industry among one of the top industries in the region.

The study, Creative Footprint: The Economic Impact of the Philadelphia Region's For Profit Creative Economy, was conducted by Econsult Corporation and examines 16 for-profit industry sectors across the 11-county region*. This study is an important step of Innovation Philadelphia's strategic plan to establish Philadelphia's regional economy as a global hub for creative services and talent.

It is important to understand all the elements that contribute to growing any economic sector. It is our intent to use these findings as a first step to identify our strengths, set a benchmark for future growth, and develop programs and initiatives that will enable Philadelphia to be a leader in creative industry development within the United States and throughout the rest of the world.

The Creative Footprint study focuses exclusively on the for-profit creative industry sectors which are technology-driven. Creative industry sectors identified by Innovation Philadelphia include architecture, communications, design and merchandising, digital media, engineering, fashion design, graphic arts, information technology, interior and industrial design, marketing, music, film and video production, multimedia design, photography, planning product design and software development.

Within this context, the following highlights emerged:

  • In 2005, creative industry employment within the region generated a total economic impact of nearly $60 billion in total spending. This spending includes $32.5 billion in total earnings and supports 766,000 jobs. (As an example, in a recent study the life sciences industry in the region generated total earnings of $40 billion and supports a total employment of 500,000 jobs.)
  • Average annual salaries of those working in for-profit creative industries ($61,600) are 45 percent higher than those in non-creative industries ($43,000).
  • Philadelphia's creative workers' earnings increased by 19 percent between 2003 and 2005, which was the fastest growth rate in the U.S.
  • Montgomery County leads the Philadelphia region with 62,000 employees in for-profit creative economy industries followed by Philadelphia County (52,000) and Bucks County (36,000).
  • In 2005, the for-profit creative economy industries generated approximately $1.22 billion in state and local taxes throughout the 11-county region.
  • Self-employed individuals represent 12 percent of all direct for-profit creative industry employment within the Philadelphia region at 36,500.
  • Six percent of creative industry firms are owned by ethnic minorities and 15.6 percent are female-owned. 60 percent of minority-owned firms are owned by Asians, 26 percent by African Americans and 12 percent by Latinos.

Innovation Philadelphia will be comparing the findings in Creative Footprint to other regional efforts in a seminar titled "Creative Movement: Creative Economy in Action. Business Development in Motion." on Thursday, May 22, 2008 from 7-30 a.m. – noon at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 109, 1101 Arch Street in Philadelphia.

Join Philadelphia business professionals and economic development, civic and education leaders and learn how peer city leaders from New York City, Boston, Austin and Pittsburgh are leading economic and job growth in creative industry businesses, and changing the landscape of business development. Creative Movement is a half-day conference and panel discussion focused on the for-profit, creative economy best-practice models from these regions. For more information on the region's creative industry and the Creative Movement Seminar, go to our website

*The 11 counties include Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Mercer, and Salem in New Jersey; and New Castle County in Delaware.

Print Article Brought to you by: Kelly R. Lee | xecutive Vice President, Innovation Philadelphia

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