November 2015: Comings and Goings

StartUp PHL Grants $104k
StartUp PHL, a city initiative to endorse and fund entrepreneurship in Philadelphia, has awarded $104,000 in grant money to six diverse organizations.

Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, who was granted $20,000, will convert land at 6th and Susquehanna streets into a pop-up marketplace. Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at the University of the Arts ($15,000) will offer an interactive program to consult and assist others who are considering opening a business. Refugee Women’s Textile Initiative ($18,500) is using the money to empower refugee women with textile skills and provide them with an opportunity to enter the manufacturing world. Schoolyard Ventures ($6,000) will create a networking marketplace where young entrepreneurs can more easily secure funding for their aspirations. TechGirlz ($19,900) will provide a stipend or college credit for students who teach at their TechShopz in a Box program, and Tiny WPA ($25,000) will put the money toward their Building Hero Project, an entrepreneurship incubator for teenagers who want to be a part of a diverse community of civic change agents.

PWD Breaks Ground and Hangs Installation
On October 7, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and its partners broke ground at the site of their new project at Heston Lot and Baker Playground at 55th and Hunter streets. The improvements will include a rain garden and storage drench that will reportedly repurpose 3,638 cubic feet of stormwater, enough to fill a SEPTA bus.

PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters program also celebrated a new “living wall” installation on the west-facing side of the National Parks Services’ Independence Park institute, located at 3rd and Walnut streets. 

The living wall system includes a planted wall structure, a storage tank, irrigation lines and a solar panel that powers a pump in order to reuse and filter stormwater while simultaneously irrigating the enclosed plants.

The installation, which was funded by the PWD and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Zone Grant program, was conceived and designed by Philly-based studio SHIFT_DESIGN in an effort to promote the reduction of stormwater pollution.

EPA honors Haverford YMCA with award
Shawn M. Garvin, the administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency Mid-Atlantic Region, presented the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA and its Vice President of Facilities Michael Troupe with the 2015 Excellence in Site Reuse award. The award recognizes the reuse and revitalization of formerly contaminated Superfund sites.

“The Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, under the leadership of Michael Troupe, is a safe, healthy and beautiful community asset,” says Garvin in a press release. “Innovative and beneficial reuse of Superfund sites, such as this one, supports economic growth and a more sustainable community.”

The 70,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility opened in October of 2013 on the Haverford Superfund site. The building boasts many eco-friendly features such as a rain recovery system for lawn and plant irrigation, various recycled materials used as flooring and efficient LED lighting.

The site was contaminated in the 1970s by the National Wood Preservers, who had dumped liquid waste and hazardous chemicals in a well that led to a groundwater supply. A section of the YMCA also occupies space left from the bygone Swell Bubble Gum factory, which closed in 2003.

Since opening its doors two years ago, the YMCA has been a notable benefit to the community, distributing over a million dollars in financial aid and serving over 24,000 community members. It’s programs, aimed toward participants of all ages include a Bike-a-Palooza, a women’s wellness retreat, free retirement planning courses and a healthy and informative summer camp, among others.

Steel Pony Finds a Home on Fabric Row
Artisanal designers Joanne Litz and Dennis Wolk have been producing sustainably minded clothing and handbags since 1992. Their high-end bohemian-chic women’s wear has found a home of its own in their newly opened storefront on historic Fabric Row at 758 S. 4th Street. The new boutique will provide a sophisticated selection of handmade clothing and accessories, all made in America. They source fabric from California, have it knitted in North Carolina and dye it all themselves in their Philadelphia studio.  

“Most brands are all image in their retail environments,” explains Litz in a blog post. “We hope to give our customers a better understanding of the value they are buying.” 

Sweetgreen Opens in new location in Rittenhouse
Sweetgreen, a steadily growing fast-casual chain, opened its flagship store in Rittenhouse in late October. Sweetgreen’s forté is salads and other healthy foods, and it sources local ingredients for regional menus. The company also provides an educational program that teaches children the importance of healthy eating, fitness and sustainability.  

“For the past two years, we’ve worked with Albert M. Greenfield School through our Sweetgreen in Schools program, and we’re thrilled to be just three blocks away, so we can continue to connect with the kids there,” enthused Jonathan Neman, co-founder & co-CEO of Sweetgreen. “On opening day, we’ll be donating 100 percent of proceeds to the school to host free farm stands for the kids and the local community.”

The 2,900-square-foot Rittenhouse store joins three other Philadelphia locations.

Saint-Gobain Opens North American Corporate HQ in Malvern
Saint-Gobain, manufacturer of building materials ranging from the components in the Mars Rover Curiosity to the glasswork featured in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, is celebrating its 350th anniversary with the opening of their North American headquarters in Malvern, Pa.  The 320,000-square-foot complex will be located at 20 Moores Rd. and will house more than 800 employees across its family of companies, such as the CertainTeed Corporation.

“Saint-­Gobain and CertainTeed’s headquarters is designed using eight exterior and 32 interior products from our portfolio to demonstrate the impact our products have on occupant’s well-being, health and productivity,” said President and CEO John Crowe.

The state-of-the-art headquarters is designed to achieve the highest level of LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system and will be a living laboratory for how design and healthy materials affect productivity. Saint-Gobain expects to bring 120 new jobs to Chester County.

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