State of the Mayor's Race - Virtual Encore
By Alex Hillman
December 15, 2022
0:00 / 01:11:05
State of the Mayor's Race - Virtual Encore

Hi everyone. Welcome. We have so many great people on this virtual encore of State of the Race 2023.

I wanted to first of all, welcome everyone. My name is Ann Gemmel directing policy and advocacy for the 10 K Independents Project. This is yet another brainchild of Alex Hillman. And I'm going to kick it to him to start off for where did this come from, . So Alex, do you wanna just give a little bit of backstory about the founding and when the seeds were planted, that sort of story?


Yeah, Well, first of all, I'm super glad and proud to have Anna as a part of the team. The 10,000 Independents project started as a bit of a reaction to, I don't know if folks remember.

Back in 2016 and 2017, there was this little company By a guy named Jeff it's called Amazon. And Amazon came up with this brilliant and evil plan to get cities to compete against each other for the privilege to be there, new headquarters. And, you know, we don't really need to talk about why that was a bad idea or how that went, but it did get my gears turning.

And one of the big pieces of the Amazon pitch was this idea of bringing 50,000 jobs to the city of Philadelphia. And I think that number was big enough to make a lot of folks both in city hall and across the city believe that they needed to play ball. And my thought process was, well, if that number's big enough to get people to react, how would I bring 50,000 jobs to the city of Philadelphia?

And, you know, I start looking at big numbers and breaking them down in the small numbers. That's how my entrepreneurial brain works. That's just how my creative brain works. And I thought, we can agree. The 50,000 jobs is a good thing. One company creating it is about the worst way to do that. And that one company being Amazon is the absolute worst way to do it. What would be better?

And what I started thinking about was, well, you know, five, 10,000 person companies would be nominally better and 5,000 person companies, a little less centralization of power and so on and so forth.

At the other end of the spectrum, 50,000 entrepreneurs isn't the kind of solution and opportunity that our city needs for the problems that we're facing today. So, somewhere in the middle maybe was a useful answer.

And that if we focus over the same 10 years that Amazon was gonna spend creating those 50,000 jobs, if we focus on helping 10,000 people become sustainably self-employed, a, we help 10,000 people become sustainably self-employed, which is a pretty significant accomplishment unto itself.

The second thing is that we look at the way that solo firms grow. The truth is, in 2022, heading into 2023, that's the reality of a lot of the economy, is that solo businesses are not only a big part of the economy, but they're allowing individuals to thrive and support themselves and their families and their communities in ways that maybe didn't make sense five or 10 years ago.