Philadelphia is a city as diverse as it is full of opportunity. Its state tax breaks reward start-ups in the city's under-served areas, while its suburban neighborhoods offer business owners a wealth of affluent clientele right in their backyards, making Philly and its surrounding suburbs a good fit for businesses targeting any demographic. And while there are plenty of places to choose from, we've broken down the top five places you should check out before starting your business in the City of Brotherly Love.
The waterfront neighborhood, which is located 15 minutes away from just about anywhere, is only three-quarters of a mile long, but is chock full of business - with 49 retailers, 32 restaurants and 52 service-related businesses. During weekdays, Manayunk primarily draws a wealthy female clientele, but the nights and weekends belong to young couples and bar hopping twenty-somethings. Perhaps the biggest perk, aside from the affordable rents, is access to the Manayunk Development Corporation, which works hand-in-hand with local business owners, helping them with everything from technical assistance to seeking grant funding.
This town is every suburbanite's dream. Two train stations offer easy access to Center City and downtown Philadelphia, and its cobblestone streets are lined with shops and restaurants. The market skews toward an affluent, environmentally conscious customer base: Residents grocery shop at the local farmers market or a new food co-op. For apparel, they turn to quirky stores like Artisans on the Avenue and the fair-trade retailer Ten Thousand Villages. The district’s Go Green initiative was recently formed to promote sustainable businesses in the neighborhood and the nearby Morris Arboretum is a 92-acre garden.
If the success of Facebook has taught us anything, it's that marketing a business to the college demographic is a brilliant strategy. University City offers the benefits of being close to Center City's business district, while still offering business owners a captive audience among some 50,000 students from University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. Because it's one of the most ethnically and socioeconomically diverse communities in Philadelphia, the state has designated several acres of University City as Keystone Opportunity Zones, where business owners are eligible for state and local tax breaks.
This neighborhood is truly a magnet for businesses in finance, insurance, real estate, engineering and legal services. According to the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, Center City has 9,000 businesses in the district, as well as 92,000 residents, and, because it's positioned just a near the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the area is easily accessible for visiting business travelers. The neighborhood has a lively retail scene, with 2,400 shops in the area, and its famed Avenue of the Arts draws loads of foot traffic to the 217 restaurants, and 59 bars and nightclubs.
One of the most historically wealthy regions of the Philadelphia area, the Main Line is a lucrative starting ground for small businesses. The area consists of several smaller towns, including Radnor, Haverford, Villanova, and Wayne, where Urban Outfitters president Richard Hayne planted the first Anthropologie store in 1992. That store, which still exists today, is just one of many upscale retailers populating Radnor Township, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, had an estimated median household income of $129,773 between 2006 and 2008.