Members of Congress from the Greater Philadelphia region met today with business, civic, and higher education leaders at the CEO Council for Growth’s second annual Federal Delegation meeting in Center City to discuss federal advocacy priorities aimed at accelerating economic growth in the region.

The Federal Delegation heard from the CEO Council, the Regional College and University Presidents’ Council and other regional stakeholders about transportation priorities including continued funding for the Delaware River Channel Deepening Project and reauthorization of long-term federal surface transportation funding that will allow the region to plan for large infrastructure projects and support mass transit agencies. Thomas Holt, Executive of Holt Logistics, said that the project “allows us to remain competitive with the ports of New York, New Jersey and Norfolk and will create economic development.”

The conversation then shifted to a discussion on the vital role of the region’s high-skilled foreign-born students, entrepreneurs and workers and the importance of moving forward with high-skilled immigration reform.

Before the meeting, Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, Inc., shared why high-skilled immigration reform is so important to the Philadelphia region. He said, “Here in our region we have the great advantage of universities that attract students that are world class, they’re from everywhere. It’s my belief that if you keep them here the employers will come. But almost a third of these world class graduates are from outside the United States, and we can’t take for granted having visa qualifications that will enable them to stay here. It would be a great advantage for our region. The time is right for this, for our legislators to get past the stall on high-skilled immigration and make sure we can add these graduate who want to stay here in the terrific environment in Philadelphia for jobs. … This needs some legislative action. Make that a priority.”

Other priorities discussed included the critical role federal funding plays in achieving the CEO Council’s vision for the region as a leader in health care innovation, research and technology. The Congressional Delegation was asked to help the region grow as an energy hub by supporting efforts to increase the availability of natural gas to Southeastern Pennsylvania. Finally, the CEO Council illustrated how Greater Philadelphia’s corporate and academic sectors are organizing around opportunities to grow the region’s manufacturing sector.

Tom Caramanico, President of McCormick Taylor, Inc., offered his thoughts after the meeting, saying, “It was a good meeting, we covered a lot of topics today. We’re fortunate to have very engaged Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and a lot of bipartisan agreement on some of our major issues. I think one of the best things about it is that we have these congressmen here listening to what are our issues, and that’s a really positive thing.”

“Today was a terrific opportunity,” added Phil Rinaldi, CEO of Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC. “This is about Philadelphia being at the right crossroads—it’s infrastructure crossroads, it’s got energy, it has all of these logistical things. And I think that part was resonating with the Congressional Delegates.”

For additional information about the CEO Council for Growth, click here.

In attendance:

  • Congressman Charles Dent
  • Congressman Chaka Fattah
  • Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick
  • Congressman Patrick Meehan
  • Congressman Jon Runyan
  • Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz