HomeA boon for the region’s economy

Photo Credit: PowerCorps PHL

We already know that increasing the implementation of GSI projects and SMPs comes with increased job opportunities in the related industries. This also leads to a boost in the number of qualified and specialized individuals within the workforce to design, implement, and maintain these systems.
So, how does this play out in Philadelphia? According to SBN’s local economic impact study, Green City, Clean Waters: The First Five Years:

“The current GSI industry in Philadelphia (as proxied by the member firms of SBN’s GSI Partners) represents at least $146.8 million in annual revenues, and in turn has an annual economic impact of $57 million, supporting 430 additional jobs and generating $860,000 in tax revenues for the City of Philadelphia. It is also an industry that is growing in size (GSI Partners’ firms have in the aggregate seen double-digit annual growth) and importance (GSI firms are providing innovative products and services that serve GSI needs here in Philadelphia and also create export opportunities to other localities around the country).”

With an estimated $1.8 billion in spending over the course of the next twenty-five years, public and private GSI investments are projected to have a $3 billion impact on the Philadelphia economy, supporting about 940 jobs per year and generating an aggregate $48 million in tax revenues annually for Philadelphia government and approximately $1.5 billion in total labor income (GCCW First Five Year study).
In Philadelphia, we are witnessing an impact in job growth, workforce development, and the formation of partnerships in the GSI industry. This not only creates local job opportunities but also elevates the value of GSI maintenance as it is perceived by industry and the public. The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) PowerCorpsPHL partnership is a prime example of that. Since 2013 PWD has partnered with PowerCorpsPHL, a City of Philadelphia AmeriCorps initiative that operates in close partnership with EducationWorks to support the city’s environmental stewardship initiatives, youth violence prevention, and workforce development.


In FY2017 alone, 54 PowerCorpsPHL members supported PWD GSI maintenance efforts in completing 465 work orders on PWD infrastructure. Forty-three members have met the requirements for successfully transitioning to employment, post-secondary education or training, or continued public service. Sixteen members have transitioned into positions in the water industry or other environmental stewardship/sustainability fields. 


The PWD PowerCorpsPHL partnership “hits on that triple bottom line impact immediately and powerfully,” says Alex Warwood, Apprenticeship and Workforce Development Director at PWD. It has provided real-world experience with what we knew was going to be a growing need for training and people to do this kind of maintenance work in the future.”


As a utility, PWD has the responsibility to provide safe and quality drinking water, clean wastewater, and stormwater management for the residents of Philadelphia. Through the partnership, “PowerCorpsPHL members are right there in supporting the stormwater management element,” says Warwood.

“By investing in PowerCorpsPHL, we are investing the money collected by stormwater management fees forward and getting a huge return on that investment. With that, we are also assisting Philadelphians develop professional and specialized skills that can transfer to other living wage jobs, and helping them contribute to something being done in the city.”

The Mayor also addressed the spectrum of jobs created by this citywide investment in GSI: the demand for green infrastructure has created an opportunity for entry-level workers with less training as well as scientist and engineers with advanced degrees.
Over the next few weeks, we will continue to look at the intersection of GSI and workforce development, both what we have already accomplished and our vision for what is possible.