From wage taxes to red tape, here’s why Philadelphia is one of the hardest cities to do business – By Christian Hetrick and Joseph N. DiStefano (The Philadelphia Inquirer) / Nov 22 2020
Why would a company moving into a century-old building that’s never flooded need to cut a drain flap into its metal front door?
It’s the extra cost of doing business in Philadelphia.
Andrew Halladay, a production manager at Imperial Yeast, an Oregon-based brewery supplier, said the company loves the facility at the former Frankford Arsenal in Northeast Philadelphia. In establishing an East Coast outpost, the business landed on the natural-light-filled building, surrounded by neighborhoods full of breweries, and close to I-95, a key artery that connects Maine to Florida.
But it took months to win city approvals, and some of the requirements explain why businesses balk at setting up in Philly. Imperial couldn’t move into the former munitions plant until contractors designed and cut the doggy-door-like drain, said Matt Handel of Alliance HSP, the building’s manager. Although the building is in a floodplain, according to the city, the site has no history of floods, he said. “It is thick tape and a cumbersome process to get through, for stuff that felt unnecessary.”
Philadelphia ranks among the worst U.S. cities to do business, with high taxes and burdensome regulations. Most major cities face similar complaints. But Philadelphia is particularly unwelcoming to new and transplanted businesses, academics, business owners, and public policy experts said, helping to ossify Philly as the nation’s poorest big city.