Philly offers incentives for hotel development

Philadelphia has launched a campaign to add 1,500 new hotel rooms to the city’s stock. There are economic incentives in place to attract investors.

The programs include below-market financing, incentives to make existing buildings more energy efficient, and job creation tax credits. Carolyn Adams, professor of geography and urban studies at Temple University, explains the pros and cons.

“It’s kind of a signal to investors and company owners that they can count on Philadelphia to be a supportive environment for their business,” she said.

But, she said, some businesses may not need such a signal. In that case, “it may be actually wasting taxpayer dollars to put that incentive on a deal that would have been done anyway,” she said.

John Grady, executive vice president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, says the incentives are essential. They lead to projects that otherwise would not happen, he said, which then lead to jobs. He said a one job is created for every new hotel room.

Critics argue those jobs offer only low wages for low-skilled work.

Adams says it’s about finding a balance:

“We have some very highly educated workers but we also have many, many residents who haven’t had the advantage of a really good education and they have only entry-level skills,” she said.

“So our economic planners for the city have to be conscious all the time that they’re working to provide jobs for people in both those categories, and not just for the highly skilled people,” Adams said.

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