On Tuesday, October 2nd, we kicked off our first event at Quorum at 3675 Market Street with the Project NorthStar Mayor’s Summit. This invite-only gathering brought together leaders from different areas of the tech-ecosystem, with Mayor Jim Kenney as their host. The Mayor’s Summit was facilitated by Black & Brown Founders, in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal. Check out a transcript of Mayor Kenney’s remarks below.
NorthStar Mayor’s Summit Welcome
October 2, 2018
Good afternoon everyone, it’s a pleasure to be here with all of you. It’s not very often that you can gather a group as influential, engaged and energized as this one into one room. But we’re all here because we see the potential for change and the potential for impact that lies within the tech industry.
Nearly two years ago, I had the privilege of attending SXSW in Austin, Texas after being asked to speak on a panel about how cities are addressing immigration in the Trump era. While I was there, one thing quickly stood out — there was an undeniable lack of diversity among the attendees.
Before I even got back to Philadelphia, I told my staff that I wanted to see our city do something to change that. I thought that this city had a chance create something unique — a tech conference specifically for underrepresented communities that could empower those populations and change their economic trajectories.
That’s where the name NorthStar really came from. In the mid-1800s, noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass began publishing The North Star — an influential anti-slavery newspaper. The name of his paper paid homage to the fact that enslaved people often used the North Star to guide their journey to freedom.
I truly feel as though the tech industry can be that beacon of hope on the journey to economic freedom for minorities in Philadelphia and across the country. Whether someone wants a career at an established company or dreams of launching their own business, the tech and innovation economy has plenty to offer.
Unfortunately, we know that communities of color — Black and Latinx people in particular — often face barriers that can prevent them from breaking into this industry. We want to change that with NorthStar.
We want to equip individuals with the skills, resources and connections they need...while also challenging employers and institutions to disrupt the status quo. That work begins today.
Our friends from Black & Brown Founders have organized an engaging session for all of you to not only discuss current issues, but also determine some real actionable steps that we can take as a community to empower people of color and elevate them within the tech industry. I won’t be able to stay for the entire session, but I know that the BBF crew will run a tight ship.
I’ll be back later this afternoon to see and hear from all of you. And while this is just a short amount of time to work through some pretty big topics, I’m sure this group will deliver an impressive update.
Before I head out, I have to thank Black & Brown Founders for being a great partner and helping us bring Project NorthStar to life. I also have to give a shout out to the NorthStar Advisory Committee — this group of local leaders have been an invaluable part of the process as we worked to make NorthStar a reality. And of course, I have to recognize the Mayor’s Summit sponsor — Comcast NBCUniversal — for their continued dedication to not only advancing their industry, but also helping our city grow.