Why ‘Eds and Meds’ are so strong in Philly, and what could end the trend


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"Some of Philadelphia’s economic success with Eds and Meds boils down to luck, or at least piggybacking off the ambitions of the universities. Philadelphia couldn’t just start thriving universities and hospitals from investment. Penn had been a top university since Ben Franklin founded it, and Drexel and Temple have risen in terms of enrollment and academic prestige in the last 25 years. All of them have received grants and donations for research and foundations that have allowed them to grow.

The city has not been directly involved in most of their growth and success. But sometimes it has stepped in with good results. Cuorato gave an example of the old Civic Center, located on 34th Street near Franklin Field. The building became unnecessary after the completion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the city worked out a deal so nearby CHOP and Penn could use it. Among the buildings now located on that site is the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. Joe Biden stopped there at the beginning of his “Moonshot” mission to cure cancer.

A term now used for hospitals and universities is anchor institution. They create jobs for workers of varying skills and education levels — from doctors to custodians — and often attempt to serve the neighborhoods they inhabit. The latter is a relatively new phenomenon.  

Until the late 1980s and even early 90s, Penn mostly acted as an invasive species in West Philadelphia. It tore up neighborhoods with little thought for residents. While gentrification in neighborhoods by colleges has been a divisive issue, Penn and other Philadelphia universities have attempted to give back and develop their surrounding areas. Over the years, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, for which Harkavy works, has for more than two decades served the West Philadelphia community, creating relationships so students and faculty can interact in the neighborhood in fields like education, environment, health and beyond."  

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