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Technology, innovation and the 2015 Philadephia Democratic Mayoral Primary: Where the candidates stand

OTHER ISSUES IN THE MAYOR’S RACE: Energy and the environment | Transportation | Education | Policing | Pot | Minimum Wage

Philadelphia’s tech scene is growing, and the next mayor will have issues to deal with ranging from the startup community to open data to increasing broadband access across the city.

Here are some of the ideas each candidate has with regard to technology and innovation:

Lynne Abraham

While Abraham doesn’t have a specific policy paper posted regarding technology and innovation, she said during Philly Tech Week that she would keep the city’s StartUp PHL funded and will work to serve small businesses better by reforming the city’s tax code. She’s also emphasized the need for smart policing and training cops to use the technology available to them.

Nelson Diaz

Diaz has said that in addition to prioritizing bringing small businesses — notably small tech companies — into Philly, he’ll work to reform the tax code to make it more feasible for these companies to be based in city limits. He also says he would mandate universal WiFi and use Comcast’s franchise agreement to force the issue.

Jim Kenney

Highlights of his plan:

  • Creating MYPHILA.GOV, a personalized site that will allow citizens to log on and see all the city services that they use at a glance, and offer ideas to better utilize city services.
  • Expand broadband access by promoting programs like Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program, offering low cost access for low income families.
  • Refine and improve the 311 system
  • Retain the position of Chief Data Officer, and finish implementation of the strategic plan and ensure that every City department that can is regularly providing data for public release.
  • Move to digitize more records, allowing citizens online access to documents and records that have previously required a visit to City Hall.

Doug Oliver

Highlights of his plan:

  • Tech training can be efficacious as long as it’s focused on soft skill training
  • Providing start-ups with tax incentives to locate in communities will serve multiple purposes – bringing jobs to people in their communities, developing safer neighborhoods, and in the long-term creating better outcomes for children and families.
  • Providing companies with access to capital
  • Providing incentives to support open data and thus the sharing of information among technology companies
  • Create a $1 million annual, innovation fund to invest in small, innovative start-ups based in Philadelphia
  • Develop a jobs database, which can be accessed by all companies (including technology companies) when they are looking to fill positions.

T. Milton Street

Street hasn’t outlined a technology and innovation policy and didn’t appear at the Philly Tech Week mayoral event.

Anthony Williams

During Philly Tech Week, Williams vowed to give tech leaders a seat at the table to help facilitate innovation initiatives. He also said he would ensure the city becomes a “paperless” government, and said that when it comes to innovation, the city should know when to “get out of the way.”

Williams has also stressed reforming the business tax code to make it easier and more financially feasible for small businesses and startups to relocate to Philadelphia.

OTHER ISSUES IN THE MAYOR’S RACE: Energy and the environment | Transportation | Education | Policing | Pot | Minimum Wage

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