The serial entrepreneur, billionaire and founder of PayPal, Peter Theil, once said, “We were promised flying cars, but instead we got 140 characters.”

Theil’s quote stemmed from his belief that, as a nation, we have lost our “national aspiration” to take the next great leap forward with technology, innovation and invention. While I have always loved the sound effects of George Jetson’s flying car, and would agree that we all need a strong dose of the aspirational, I would suggest that we should focus our ambition, investment and creative innovation a lot closer to home.

Specifically, I believe that we should make the concerted and collaborative effort to bring the next generation of healthcare innovation, technologies and business models to our brothers and sisters who need it most. Namely, the residents of North Philadelphia that, by virtue of their zip code, are predicted to live approximately 20 years LESS than the rest of us.

The good news is that we can do something now that will change the course of this forecast.

In mid-October, Governor Tom Wolf, Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas and Mayor Jim Kenny announced a new initiative titled the North Philadelphia Health Enterprise Zone. It is a collaborative effort that will focus on targeting residents in North Philadelphia to improve their access to high quality, affordable healthcare. 

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, along with numerous other partners, including Chamber members Temple University, Einstein Healthcare Network and Hahnemann Hospital, was honored to participate in the announcement of this initiative.

Our role as an Enterprise Zone partner will be threefold:

  • We will convene and aggregate our members and other civic partners in the Enterprise Zone to connect individuals with work and wellness opportunities.
  • Working with our member healthcare/hospital providers and our Greater Philadelphia Healthcare Innovation Acton Team, we will bring the world’s leading healthcare innovators to this area of our city to deploy new ways to encourage wellness, treatment, and high quality cost effective healthcare delivery models.
  • We will be part of a shared advocacy agenda that will ensure that the appropriate level of public resources is committed to the City of Philadelphia to turn back this very unhealthy forecast.

Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love, and, as the scriptures ask, “Are we not our brother’s (and sister’s) keepers?”  We have the resources, the technology and the drive. Here at the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, we stand at the ready to be the kind of aspiration Peter Theil is seeking.

Rob Wonderling is president of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.