On Nov. 13, City Controller Alan Butkovitz submitted a press release on the Cultural and Commercial Corridors Bond program audit. Lamentably, the press release did not include any of the content that was provided in the Philly Commerce Department’s response to the audit. In light of this omission, let me set out some key facts:
The primary goal of this $139 million funding program was to assist local cultural institutions, small to medium sized nonprofit organizations, and community development corporations with “hard-to-fund” capital improvements. The Commerce Department, under the supervision of a 12-person monthly working group, committed these funds to more than 200 organizations throughout the city, contributing to streetscape improvements, increased capacity of small businesses, and infrastructure improvements in arts and cultural institutions.
The program provided for significant streetscape improvements on more than 30 of Philadelphia’s neighborhood commercial corridors, including South Street Head House Square, Grays Ferry Avenue, Frankford Avenue and North Broad Street. In addition to our neighborhood economic development successes, this program made a substantial investment in Philadelphia’s anchor arts and cultural institutions, including the Arden Theater Company, Settlement Music School, the Painted Bride, and the Walnut Street Theater.
To ensure that the program investment maximized economic opportunity, the Commerce Department developed clear outcomes, thorough oversight and numerous strategies to encourage minority business and workforce participation. For example, although the city required projects with public subsidies over $1 million to have an Economic Opportunity Plan to ensure diversity, Commerce raised the bar, requiring every grant over $250,000 to make and report on best and good faith efforts to engage minority- and women-owned businesses. We are proud to report that more than 25 percent of the funds expended went to minority and women owned businesses.
Click headline to read more and access hot links--