David Thornburgh

By David B. Thornburgh, Executive Director of Fels Institute of Government Like any good public-policy watcher, I tuned in to the President’s State of the Union address last week.  My reaction?  As a speech…meh.  More important to me, though, was the question about what we can reasonably expect the President to deliver from the agenda he outlined in his address.   It’s in...
Fels Executive Director David Thornburgh was recently asked by National Public Radio (NPR) to comment on their story about "The Most Dangerous Desk Jobs in Washington", which concerned the role of those leading federal agencies under a very public microscope after events such as a natural disaster or unflattering report.  Click here to go to NPR's website.
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A verbal bouquet of things to love about February - snowstorms not included!
Internet has enabled a whole new category of companies, including Uber and Lift car sharing, Airbnb rent-a-room, and eBay, that have been dubbed the “sharing economy.” A recent report from Airbanb states that in the last year they generated over $600 million in economic activity in New York alone. This is enough to support the equivalent of roughly 4,500 jobs. The implications of this new...
We have all heard the adage that small businesses are the engine of our national economy and create most of our new jobs from countless politicians.  However, we’ve known for 35 years that it’s not so much small firms that create jobs, but in fact new firms.  We call these startups. In round numbers and in any given year, new firms create two thirds of all new jobs, with most of them...
Comparing one city to another in economic or competitive terms is a little like comparing their cultural scenes. There is no such thing as the best city or the best cultural scene, only that the best of them are distinctive and complex. Which for business strategy fans is reassuring, because that is exactly what Michael Porter stressed on his classic works on corporate strategy - strive to be...
The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, the long standing business led civic organization, just held its annual leadership exchange, which brought together 200 leaders in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors in a strategic retreat to consider the region’s key challenges and opportunities. This exchange serves a reminder of just how critical diverse mutli-sector leadership teams are to...
People have a general tendency to conclude that population gain is always a good thing – a sign that a city, region, state, or country is on its way back. Take Allentown for example. Allentown’s population grew by 11% since 2000, making it the fast growing city in the state. Break open the champagne, right? Maybe not. As the population has grown, its household income has slipped, from about...
Market research firm, Harris Interactive, recently asked Americans where they would rather be if they weren’t where they are. American’s responded that they’d most like to live in New York, San Diego, LA, San Francisco, and Honolulu. They’d least like to live in New York, Detroit, LA, Chicago, and Miami. It’s not clear how many folks quoted our old comedian friend, W.C. Fields, “I would rather...
One of Philadelphia’s greatest success stories in the last 15 years has been the turnaround and growth of University City. According to the fourth annual State of University City report produced by the University City District, home values have tripled in the last decade, average household income has climbed 36% in 20 years, and the rate of violent crime has dropped 44% since 1998. Credit goes...
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