Dear Philadelphia: Wilmington Wants Your Millennials

Updated September 30, 2018
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Summarised from the article Dear Philadelphia: Wilmington wants your millennials from

Wilmington is starting a two-year, $2 million campaign to raise its profile in an effort to attract new residents, particularly millennials living in Philadelphia, and draw businesses, especially those in the Pennsylvania city, to the largest city in Delaware.

The campaign has two slogans: “Wilmington Love” and “It’s Time.” The effort, which is a first for Wilmington, is being funded by city and state money as well as donations made by a who’s who of the city’s business community including Barclays, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, Chemours and Buccini/Pollin Group.

The idea to launch such an effort had been simmering for some time and a group finally formed to rally behind it and line up money to finance it. “There was a volunteer group of businesses and nonprofits who decided they really wanted to tell the story of what’s going on in Wilmington,” said Jim Stewart, chairman of a working group that has been organizing the campaign. “The story for the past five to 10 years has been a real turnaround and rebirth, and people don’t realize what is going
on and we want to shine a spotlight on that.”

Cities and states frequently launch ad campaigns for a variety of reasons such as drumming up more tourism. Those campaigns highlight the location as a destination that has something different to offer and get it on the radar of people and companies who might consider relocating. Two iconic tourism campaigns have been “Virginia is for Lovers” and “I Love New York.”

The Wilmington campaign, though, is more of an economic development effort. It will have two phases and the first will be to tell the story about Wilmington to a local and regional audience to build awareness of what the city is about, what it has to offer and what differentiates it from other cities. The second phase will be an earnest effort to convince millennials and businesses to relocate to Wilmington. Philadelphia is the main target of the campaign.

“A lot of companies will be trying to hire people over the next several years and if somebody gets a job offer who lives in Philadelphia, Washington, Cincinnati, wherever, we want to help them understand what Wilmington has to offer,” Stewart said. “There are a lot of people who work here who commute from Philadelphia and want to see some of them move and live here. It’s a lot cheaper to live here rather than in Philadelphia.”

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki is quick to cite some of the positive attributes of the city, including some of new developments that have come online or is currently underway in the city – like a new field house for the Philadelphia 76ers, new apartment buildings and restaurants that are opening up.
But there’s more to the city than that, Purzycki said, such as its parks, neighborhood festivals and outdoor concerts.

“It’s simply magnificent,” he said. “It’s really hard to describe how we got into this fix, but we find ourselves with a city so attractive but we have a public perception that is much darker than what it is. It’s deeply troubling for those of us who know Wilmington. It’s enough. We’re not going to do this anymore. We’re going to tell our own story.”

Part of the “Wilmington Love” campaign involves getting residents to tell their personal stories about Wilmington and what the city means to them. This is one way it hopes to rally residents to help get the word out about their city and serve as ambassadors in the overall effort.

The “It’s Time” tagline sums up a lot of what the campaign is trying to accomplish.

“We’ve been through what we’ve been through and a lot of different things are coming together,” Stewart said. “It’s time for business. It’s time for the neighborhoods. It’s time for a lot of great new things for Wilmington. It’s our time.”


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