Economic Impact Survey: Philadelphia Business Community’s Response to the Plans for the Papal Visit August 2015

Audit Date: September 2, 2015
Audit Categories
  • Other
Controller: Alan Butkovitz
Audit Tags
  • Commerce,
  • Economic Development,
  • Pope


City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the results of his Economic Impact Survey of the Papal Visit that found 86..

Executive Summary

For Immediate Release
Sept. 2, 2015

Contact: Brian Dries

Papal Visit Survey: Businesses Optimistic, Concerned
About Poor Planning Communication

City Controller issues economic impact survey of Philadelphia’s business community in response to Pope’s visit

Economic Impact Survey of Business Community’s Response
to the plans for the Papal Visit

PHILADELPHIA – City Controller Alan Butkovitz today released the results of his Economic Impact Survey of the Papal Visit that found 86 percent of respondents felt they were provided insufficient event details.

While the majority of the hotels, restaurants and retailers who responded to the Controller’s survey were highly optimistic about the Pope’s visit, only 14 percent indicated that the City’s Administration provided sufficient details to allow their business to properly plan. Forty-eight percent were provided little or no information but felt they were still able to plan, and 38 percent had insufficient information and not able to plan.

“After listening to what businesses had to say, I can report that they are excited, enthusiastic, ready to put their best foot forward and overall – optimistic that this could be a big revenue generating event for them,” said Butkovitz.

“However, an overwhelming number of businesses felt the Administration did not provide enough details, causing uncertainty throughout their community.”

When asked about the Traffic Box, which has been re-named to the Francis Festival Grounds, 91 percent of respondents indicated that it created challenges to doing business. The top three concerns included the following: Getting employees to work, getting supplies and deliveries and the removal of trash.

“Commercial trash is usually hauled six days a week, and if huge demand materializes, the City will be overflowing with refuse,” said Butkovitz. “If the Traffic Box remains closed all night, neither private trash nor deliveries will be possible.”

According to Controller Butkovitz, while the results indicate an earlier and more proactive approach would clearly have been preferable, it is encouraging that the latest changes made by the World Meeting of Families, led by Donna Crilley Farrell, and Mayor Nutter appear to have calmed some of the businesses’ anxiety.

“The responses to our survey are an opportunity for the World Meeting of Families to continue their current, positive outreach initiatives and address many of the businesses’ concerns,” said Butkovitz. “We want this event to be a major success – for the City, for all Philadelphians, and most importantly, for the business community.”

The majority of businesses, 65 percent, indicated they are cautiously optimistic, while 24 percent expect to close during the Pope’s visit.

“For this event to reach its greatest potential, the business community needs to be assured that their planning concerns and needs will be addressed,” said Butkovitz.

According to Controller Butkovitz, the economic impact survey has been the only systematic effort to hear from businesses and to invite comment in their own words. The Controller plans to distribute a post-visit survey to gauge businesses projections against actual outcomes.