In 2017, there was an increase in jobs, educational attainment and population along North Broad Street between City Hall and Germantown Avenue, according to a report by the community revitalization group North Broad Renaissance.
North Broad Renaissance is a nonprofit community organization that incentivizes development along the North Broad corridor, coordinating with community members, public and private developers and local businesses. North Broad Renaissance released The State of North Broad 2017 after a year of research with Philadelphia-based consulting services Econsult Solutions.
There were more than 4,000 new jobs added along North Broad in 2017 and the population grew from 48,384 people to 49,695.
There are more than 1,300 businesses along North Broad that employ 29,107 people. But the local unemployment rate is still high at 14 percent — a stark contrast to Philadelphia’s 5.7 percent rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for November 2017.
Although more people are working and income is rising in communities along North Broad, the projected income growth for 2022 will not outpace inflation. This is a problem for the many residents who don’t own their home, because their rent and other expenses could increase due to inflation.
At least 62 percent of people in neighborhoods along North Broad Street are renting their residence, said Shalimar Thomas, the executive director of North Broad Renaissance.
“When you think about community revitalization, it’s those renters that are really the most vulnerable population,” she added. “Because if the rent goes up, then there’s nothing you can do. You can’t afford it. You just have to leave.”
North Broad Renaissance collected data on North Philadelphia communities the entire year to gear its future programs toward bettering the area. Keeping people in North Philadelphia is one of Thomas’ priorities, she said.
By collecting information about the community and communicating it to residents, Thomas hopes to find a way to “maybe [get] those 62 percent [of renters to] eventually go into home ownership.”
Lee’s Hoagie House on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street had an increase in sales and had “a great year,” said managing partner Josh Waxman.
Waxman credited the increase in business to Temple’s growth over the last year.
“The school itself is growing and building, so that helps a lot,” he added.
“North Broad is really experiencing a revitalization of growth and development and that has been greatly increasing in recent years,” said Brittany Forman, a member of the North Broad Renaissance advisory board and director at Econsult Solutions.
One of the ways North Broad Renaissance plans to help revitalize the area is by encouraging the development of business hubs that focus on complimenting and expanding the scope of existing businesses.
These hubs will incentivize similar businesses to open in the same area, creating identifiable areas along North Broad that serve a specific interest. The four proposed hubs that North Broad Renaissance is promoting are a tech hub, an arts and culture hub, a health hub and a professional service hub.
Temple and Temple University Hospital are two of the largest employers along North Broad, with 780 employees from surrounding ZIP codes.
On Jan. 24, Temple opened an unrelated Workforce Connections Hub on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street to address high unemployment in the area.
The hub is the result of a partnership between the Pan-African Studies Community Education Program and the Center for Social Policy and Community Development’s Workforce Education Lifelong Learning Program.
The Workforce Connections Hub provides workshops, education, training and support to help people enter the workforce or find a better job.
“What we do is we start with academics,” said Carolyn Finklea, lead instructor at Workforce Education Lifelong Learning. “Without the academic portion, even a person that’s already in the workforce is very limited. Whether they are working or have a high school diploma, they may need some more training or to increase their academic skills so that they can move forward in their career.”
“That’s where we partner…to provide that academic piece and that support of services that help the students move forward,” she added.
Finklea and this new hub will work alongside North Broad Renaissance’s mission to improve employment and wages in the North Broad corridor.
“Having those types of businesses in those hubs, it not only compliments the area and the current establishment already in the area, but it can also provide sustainable employment for those areas,” Thomas said.
North Broad Renaissance considers community engagement one of its top priorities, encouraging development and growth while emphasizing inclusivity and equity, Thomas said.
“Everything we do is guided by community feedback,” she added. “We went into the community and we asked, ‘What do you want to see from an organization like NBR?’ And their feedback is what has been guiding us through the years.”