Greater Philadelphia Business

Business Value

Greater Philadelphia offers a great value for businesses. Business costs are lower in Greater Philadelphia than in New York, San Francisco and Boston and comparable to costs in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Seattle.

  • Office rental rates in Greater Philadelphia are lower than those in the New York City, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., metro areas.
  • Greater Philadelphia is home to 17 Fortune 500 companies and 33 Fortune 1000 companies.

Business Clusters

Educated people with creative ideas and investment capital are making Greater Philadelphia the go to place for success in sciences, technology, communications and finance. Research at regional companies and universities continues to bring new intellectual property to markets, fuels the growth of technology transfer and incubates innovative technology and services. In fact, Philadelphia's University of Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation for transferring the ideas developed in university research labs into marketable technology.

Looking at our heritage of "firsts," it is easy to see why certain business clusters thrive in Greater Philadelphia.


The first U.S. hospital, founded in Philadelphia in 1751, led to a cluster of 18th century medical institutions and societies even before the birth of our nation. Although industry and science have changed and made great strides in medicine and bioscience since that time, Greater Philadelphia continues to be a global center for medical education, research and leadership.

The Milken Institute, a nonprofit, independent economic think tank, in 2005 released a report, "The Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Cluster: an Economic and Comparative Assessment." The report details how Greater Philadelphia fares on the Milken Institute's Life sciences index, a measure of the strength and growth potential of the cluster.

The report ranks Greater Philadelphia against 10 other metropolitan areas considered the leading life sciences clusters in the U.S. based on employment, output, workforce, investment and dozens of other measures. Greater Philadelphia ranks third behind only Boston and San Francisco.

Additionally, the Milken report showed:

  • Life sciences account for 12.5 percent of all employment in the region. A total of 363,200 workers in life sciences and related industries.
  • The industry is responsible for $15.5 billion (7.1 percent) of the region's gross metro product – $6 billion directly and $8.6 billion from the so-called "ripple" economic impact in other sectors.

Today, some of the largest biopharmaceutical companies in the world have a significant presence in the region, including AstraZeneca, Centocor, Cephalon Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Shire Pharmaceuticals. The National Institutes of Health has granted more than $800 million to our universities, research institutes and medical centers for research.


In the last century, research and development at chemical companies led to new materials and products that have made lives easier, better and safer. Today, those companies continue to solve problems focusing on improving health, safety, the environment and quality of life. Greater Philadelphia companies include, Air Products, DuPont, Hercules and Rohm and Haas.

Communications and Information Technology

The first electronic computer was built at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946. In 60 years, we have advanced far beyond that first ENIAC computer. Greater Philadelphia companies including Comcast, L3, Lockheed Martin, Safeguard Scientifics, SAP, Sunguard, Unisys and Verizon are developing and expanding our digital capabilities and contributions.

Financial Services

Greater Philadelphia established the first public bank in America, The Pennsylvania Bank, in 1780; the first Stock Exchange in America, founded in 1790; and the first Savings Fund Society, opened in 1810.

From those beginnings, financial services continue to be a major business cluster in the region with many firms involved here, including Bank of America, Citizens Bank, Commerce Bank, Lincoln Financial (parent company of Delaware Investments), PNC Bank, SEI, The Vanguard Group, Wachovia and others.

As we move through the 21st century, Greater Philadelphia remains mindful of its rich history and the region's role in the birth of our nation. Yet, the region takes the lead as the place for cutting-edge innovation and world-class business resources.

The Building Boom

New office spaces and residential condominiums are going up all around Philadelphia. Two new office towers, the Cira Centre (completed in 2005) and Comcast Tower (opened in winter 2007) will add two million square feet in and around Center City. Now, there is talk of building the American Commerce Center, a proposed 1,500-foot, 2.2 million-square-foot skyscraper that would be the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

Philadelphia's Center City population is the third-largest in the country behind New York and Chicago. Since 1997, more than 8,000 residential units have been added to Center City, boosting the population to 91,000. Projections estimate a population of 96,000 to 105,000 by 2010. Many young people and empty-nesters are making the city their home. As office space and residential units have increased, so has consumer demand and the retailers have followed. New, high-end retail stores are opening up shop in and around Center City.

- deal6 - auctions6