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PHILADELPHIA-Acknowledging that this region is “late to the game,” the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce unveils a $16-million, four-year campaign to attract and retain businesses here. Under the marketing slogan, “Select Greater Philadelphia: The Place to Prosper,” the effort casts a wide net versus the ongoing “intra-regional bidding wars,” such as those being played out between the city and Camden, NJ.

This campaign defines Greater Philadelphia as southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware. Among the factors cited for the urgency of such an effort, however, are the more than six million sf of Center City office space under leases set to expire by 2007 plus early indications that current office tenants’ space needs are shrinking.

The campaign is patterned after similar efforts under way in Charlotte, NC, Phoenix and Atlanta, and builds on Positively Philadelphia, established this March by Peco Energy Co. and commercial real estate companies in the region. Positively Philadelphia, a central website identifying space availabilities to companies and corporate relocation executives, is being absorbed into the Select Philadelphia site.

The new campaign is orchestrated by Select Greater Philadelphia, a non-profit group run primarily with private funding out of the chamber’s offices. It begins with $5 million in corporate donations and plans to raise an additional $11 million.

In announcing the launch, Mark Schweiker, president and CEO of the chamber, said the campaign “would firmly re-establish the region to outsiders as a place to do business.” Among the regional benefits the effort will stress are “an experienced and skilled workforce, world-class medical schools and universities, and more software engineers than Redmond, WA, hometown to Microsoft.” Schweiker is the former governor of Pennsylvania.

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