The Forbes Under 30 Summit, the annual invitation-only millennial innovation-focused event, will not return to Philadelphia, Billy Penn has learned.
According to Mayor Jim Kenney’s communications director, Forbes wanted $2 million in funds to support the conference, which the city declined to commit, and Forbes chose to move the Summit to Boston.
“We asked for a breakdown of how that money would be spent and they were unwilling to provide it,” said Lauren Hitt, the communications director. “We asked for statistics to show past economic impact, even something like hotel rooms filled, and they weren’t able to provide substantive data. Regardless, we still offered to privately fundraise and at that point they decided to go to Boston. While the Mayor remains committed to attracting large conferences to Philadelphia, we feel that, in this case, this decision was in the best interest of the taxpayer.”
Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The summit, which drew celebrities like Monica Lewinsky, Barbara Bush and model Ashley Graham (now on a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover), is moving to another city in the Northeast. When Forbes Magazine chose Philadelphia for its initial summit, then-Mayor Michael Nutter touted the event.
In January 2015, Nutter spoke to Billy Penn about bringing the conference back on, hopefully, a regular basis. ““We would certainly like to have them here for many years to come,” Nutter said then. “The fact that they decided to come back for the second year in a row says a great deal about their experience here.”
The 2015 Summit closed with a concert at Penn’s Landing featuring A$AP Rocky, Sean Mendes and Hanson.
Both years of the Summit cost a city-affiliated nonprofit $1.7 million, according to Newsworks. There was no mention of the city subsidy in the initial announcements that the event would be located in Philly.
Sheila Hess, city representative, said in January Philadelphia wanted to continue hosting the Summit but stressed event priorities of Kenney’s administration as affordability, partnerships and neighborhoods. She said the administration wanted events that appealed to residents of Philadelphia as much as prospective visitors.
“We are world class already,” Hess said, “but we want to strengthen that and create an experience for our current residents and neighbors. If we can get them to be our biggest ambassadors and advocates… that’s the best.”
Though Philadelphia had been reported to be the event’s permanent home, Lane told Billy Penn last year the decision would be on a year-to-year basis and would stay in Philadelphia if city leaders remained supportive and cooperative. Lane, a Penn graduate, had been excited about the prospect of Philly making it an annual tradition.
“It’s the kind of place we like the idea of getting behind,” he said, “and working on as a long-term catalyst that South by Southwest has done for Austin, Texas.”