Foreign journalists descend on Philadelphia

The plan: fly in a handful of foreign journalists. The goal: gin up some positive press.

That’s the idea behind a media tour in Philadelphia this week, which kicked off in earnest on Wednesday with a panel discussion and a tour of the Comcast Center.

“We want to let the world know what’s happening here in this region,” said Bryan Evans of Select Greater Philadelphia, the economic development firm that works to lure companies to the area.

Select Greater Philadelphia has been organizing these junkets for years. This is the first to focus specifically on entrepreneurship and innovation.

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“At the end of the day it’s about attracting foreign investment,” said Evans.

But first there’s bridging the perception gap.

“In a lot of cases there is no perception of greater Philadelphia globally,” said Evans. “We’re trying to just educate everyone on all the great things that are happening here.”

Jia Zhou covers business and finance for the Shanghai-based China Business News. She’s based in New York but had visited Philadelphia only once, on vacation.

“I did not know that Philadelphia had so many technology companies,” Zhou said, adding that she had thought of Philly as an old, industrial city. “Yesterday I began to know that this city is very health-care technology-heavy and IT technology-heavy.”

Stefan Asche is an editor at a Düsseldorf-based German weekly that focuses on technology and business. It’s his first time in Philadelphia.

“I’m here to see what the startup scene looks like compared with the startup scene in Silicon Valley, for example, or the startup scene in Germany,” Asche said.

Relative to the tech scene back home, Asche said, Philly seemed similar, especially when it comes to scratching up venture capital.

Still, Asche’s view of the region was strongly positive.

“I’m going to tell the German readers that Philadelphia is a nice place to be and a nice place to found a company,” he said.

After Comcast, the seven international journalists (two from China, two from France, one each from Germany, Israel and Ireland) were whisked off to University City, and then to a quick visit with the mayor.

On Thursday it’s off to Delaware and Southern New Jersey.

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