May 2024

News + Updates


The Organic Agriculture Industry in Pennsylvania

In 2023, ESI was hired by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to evaluate the impact of the organic agriculture industry in Pennsylvania. This included economic and fiscal impact, supply chain, gap, and SWOT analyses, as well as recommendations for the Commonwealth to ensure continued growth of the industry.

In addition to current impacts and historical trends, ESI looked to the future of the industry, and found that climate change mitigation, equitable economic development, and agricultural research and technological innovation would be critical to the continued success of the industry.

Read the full report here.


Special Briefing: Doom Loop or Boom Loop - Working from Home and the Challenges Facing U.S. Cities

Dr. Richard Voith and Dr. David Stanek will join an expert panel on May 29, presented by the Volcker Alliance, to discuss the future economic impacts of remote work.

Moderated by William Glasgall, the series also features Susan Wachter, Co-Director of Penn IUR, Jose Maria Barrero from the Instituto Technologico Autonomo de Mexico, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh from Columbia University's Graduate School of Business, and Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City.

RSVP here.

City Hall Connectors: Public Safety and Clean & Green Initiatives

ESI is proud to sponsor City Hall Connectors: Public Safety and Clean & Green Initiatives, presented by The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. The event will take place June 11, from 2:00 - 3:00 PM and feature newly appointed Adam Geer, Chief Public Safety Director, and Carlton Williams, Director of Clean and Green Initiatives, representing the City of Philadelphia. Learn how the Offices of Public Safety and Clean and Green Initiatives will work in tandem, with the support of our business community, to achieve Mayor Cherelle Parker's vision of making Philadelphia the safest, cleanest, and greenest big city in the nation while growing its economy.

RSVP here.

City Hall Connectors: Commerce Director Alba Martinez

ESI is proud to sponsor City Hall Connectors: Commerce Director Alba Martinez, presented by The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. The event will take place June 25, from 10:00 - 11:00 AM and will feature the newly appointed Director of Commerce for the City of Philadelphia, Alba Martinez. Martinez will share her top priorities as she leads the Department of Commerce in carrying out Mayor Parker's vision to make our city a more dynamic destination with access to economic opportunity for all. Learn how the department is collaborating with the private sector to create equitable wealth-building opportunities that grow quality jobs, build capacity in underserved communities, and make it easier to operate a successful business in Philadelphia.

RSVP here.

Staff and Senior Advisor Updates

ESI welcomes Garry Bennett and Jesse McCree to the Senior Advisory board! ESI has assembled an active advisory board to assist in marketing, project development, and project implementation. Our advisors have held significant positions in business, government, institutional, and nonprofit organizations. Their dynamic activities, combined with their scope of experience add a breadth of knowledge that distinctively complements our expertise.

Gary Bennett is a high-impact Sales Management Executive and Workforce Consultant known for delivering world-class performance results, building high-performance sales teams; and leading business strategy initiatives for Fortune 100 organizations.

Jesse McCree is a national thought leader in investing in human talent at the intersection of the future of work and learning. He has 15 years of experience in start-ups, consulting, education, workforce development leadership, policy analysis, and nonprofit management.

Gina Lavery served as a panelist at the most recent Meet the Developers program on May 15, 2024. When asked what keeps you up at night, Gina responded with "ensuring regional cooperation to meet our development goals."

Meet the Developers is presented by the Center City Business Association.

Catherine Timko attended the ICSC National Convention in Las Vegas. She is working with several of ESI and Riddle Company clients on retail strategy and attraction. She was also a guest on JLL's retail podcast Building Places on Tuesday May 21 with James D. Cook, Director of Research, America's, for Retail speaking about how communities approach retail attraction.

Joyce Lee provides an update on the latest report released by the Philadelphia Environmental Justice Advisory Commission (PEJAC).

Joyce is an inaugural commissioner of the Philadelphia Environmental Justice Advisory Commission.

Geoffrey Roche discussed critical challenges facing the healthcare industry as well as the impact of work-life balance on employee retention in an episode of the Making Better podcast.

Sylvie Gallier Howard will be presenting along with Eleanor Sharpe, former Director of the Department of Planning & Development for the City of Philadelphia, at the Urban Future conference in Rotterdam happening June 5-7, 2024.

Chris Dwyer has joined The Pennington School as Chief Financial Officer. Founded in 1838, Pennington welcomes students from over 35 countries to its campus in Mercer County, NJ. The Pennington School is an independent coeducational school of students in grades 6 through 12, in both day and boarding programs.

Now Available

Climate Resilience Index

A Comparative Analysis for Measuring Progress

In April, ESI Center for the Future of Cities released its Climate Resilience Index, a systematic, standardized methodology for assessing a city's preparedness to withstand and adaptive capacity to recover from climate-related disasters.

The methodology employed by ESI Center for the Future of Cities Research Fellows was built from ESI's vast database of indices and metrics developed to evaluate the economic impact of environmental infrastructure. Such methodologies have been put to use by ESI to evaluate the benefits of trails systems, and city-wide tree planting programs, return on investment in open space protection, as well as impact statements for transportation grant applications.

Learn More

U.S. - China Research

The Urgency of Establishing a "Clean Power Common Market" in Central Asia

The excessive reliance of Central Asian countries on coal and coal-fired energy has increased the risk of environmental degradation in the region, posing a serious challenge to local sustainable development and sparking new international concerns.

Read more here

Present Value

(Unsolicited) Advice for New Board Members By Saul Behar

Senior Advisor Saul Behar, a veteran of the corporate governance arena, offers guidance to new (and seasoned) members of boards of directors. His insights come from nearly 40 years of experience and are applicable to members of for-profit, nonprofit, and governmental agency oversight boards.

Read more here.

Making Pedestrian-Only Streets a Reality in Philadelphia By Mike Daly

Business Development Manager Mike Daly examines cities implementing pedestrian zones and how combining the concept with the intentionality behind Vision Zero and the activity of Philadelphia's commercial corridors can lead to safer and vibrant streets for all.

Read more here.

Expert Views: A Conversation with Gina Lavery on the Climate Resilience Index By Mike Daly

Mike Daly sat down with Gina Lavery, Head of ESI Center for the Future of Cities to discuss the recently released Climate Resilience Index. As part of this discussion, we learn more about the reason for developing such an index, the challenges cities currently face, and how leaders can use this resource to benchmark their own efforts in creating more sustainable policies.

Read more here.

From the Vault: Features on Sustainability and Urban Resilience

In this Present Value post, we look back on thought provoking reads focused on the growing threat of climate change, the need for sustainability policies, and how communities big and small are working to foster urban resilience.

Read more here.

Finding Solutions for the Growing Student Housing Crisis By Stephen Madsen

ESI Associate Director Stephen Madsen reviews the rising cost of room and board, and how it affects housing security and the overall success of students.

Read more here.

Client Spotlight

Amtrak and NJ Transit have announced that the Portal North Bridge is halfway complete, also indicating that the project is expected to be complete within budget.

The Bellwether District and Bartram's Garden have entered into a two-year partnership to plant 200 trees throughout Southwest Philadelphia to expand the urban tree canopy.

Center City Sips is set to return June 5 and run through August 28. This will mark the 20th anniversary of the program, with dozens of participating bars, restaurants, and beer gardens offering deals every Wednesday from 5:00 - 7:00 PM.

Comcast is rolling out new initiatives to boost speeds for customers and is expanding in local rural areas with help from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Broadband Infrastructure Program. Comcast expects buildout of the network across 13 Pennsylvania counties to be complete in late 2026.

Julie Puchtler has been named Chief Financial Officer for the University of Pennsylvania Health System effective July 1, succeeding longtime CFO Keith Kasper, who will become Chief Administrative Officer for the six-hospital nonprofit health system.

Starting this fall, students who have earned associate degrees at community colleges will no have the opportunity to attend Drexel University at half the cost. The university's tuition is currently $58,293 a year. The discount from the Drexel Promise Scholarship, which does not include state and federal financial aid, will reduce tuition to about $29,146.

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