The Urban Industry Initiative (UII) was an early progenitor of the Entrepreneurial League System®.
A 3-year pilot project whose mission was to retain neighborhood-based manufacturing jobs in Philadelphia, the overall strategy of the UII was to retain and increase jobs both by helping manufacturers become more competitive and by strengthening the connections manufacturers have with their neighborhood. The UII has sought to achieve this objective by developing social and economic relationships—social capital—among neighborhood manufacturers.
By linking companies together to share expenses, pool scarce resources, form strategic alliances, buy and sell from one another and exchange information as well as ideas, firms can grow their business in ways that were not previously available to them. And as participants in a thriving industrial community—a place with strong social capital—firms gain economic value from their location in an urban neighborhood. This means a stronger bottom line, and a company whose location is an asset rather than a liability.
A key conclusion of this project is that in order to strengthen regional and community economies, traditional economic-development services must be supplemented with a strategy of social capital development among companies.
Time Period: 1996 - 1999
Geography: A 10-square-mile section of lower Northeast Philadelphia covered home to over 330 firms employing 13,000 people and selling over $3 billion worth of products and services, in all major industry sectors.
Number of Active Participants: more than 150 companies, a roughly 50% market penetration rate.
Budget: Approximately $1.7 million (includes $600,000 used for a loan fund)
Funder: Pew Charitable Trusts
Post Project Outcomes:
the Urban Industry Initiative still exists (although not in the same dynamic form), having morphed into a manufacturers association.
To download a case study of this project, click here.