TP Features: Interview with Chamber of Commerce chief

A big obstacle for developing a respected online news startup is access.

That’s why having a feature interview with the new president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce was another in  a continuously more consistent stream of serious, originally-reported material for Technically Philly.

Rob Wonderling is losing his office in the Harrisburg State Capitol complex.

On Aug. 1, the two-term Republican state senator from Delaware County will report to the Avenue of the Arts as the new president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, as the private, 5,000-member organization announced last month.

By taking the helm of the region’s largest business advocacy organization, he says he’s eager to rebolden the region’s new business community.

“We’ve really lost the language of entrepreneurship [in the region],” Wonderling, 47, says. “Risk taking and capital and job creation are almost scurrilous terms in some political quarters. I feel very passionately that for a free democratic society, we need all of that.” Read the rest here.

After the jump, see some quotations that didn’t make it into the story, in addition to what helped me grab the interview.

I spent last summer serving an enlightening internship with the historical Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association. While there, I pitched and wrote a story for the Allentown Morning Call on legislators using the BlackBerry and other handheld smart phones as legislative tools.

When Wonderling won his state Senate seat in 2002, the same year the BlackBerry came out, he became Pennsylvania’s first legislator to use the mobile device as a legislative tool. Yes, he was capitvated by technology, I learned during my interview with him then.

So when I heard he was named the GPCC CEO, I knew it was a good angle for TP. I called his office, dropped a name or three and scheduled the conference call a full month in advance. Then, TP had a strong, serious piece on a major player in the city’s business community.

Some meaningful content that was dropped from my story and Q&A transcript:

  • “The life sciences in this region are, of course, vibrant.  But we need to have even more of a startup economy. We want to work on that, to create a broad civic manner that supports and promotes entrepreneurship.”
  • “If you look at the statistics, really, 50 percent of jobs in Pennsylvania will be created by one person with an idea. Increasingly in the future, the more likely that startup will be driven by technology. So, we need to be more vibrant. We’d be foolish to not provide services for technology to that startup.”
  • “That’s important for entrepreneurship.
  • He didn’t pass up an opportunity to take a swing at Rendell. “That’s why I’m opposed to Gov. Rendell’s plan to increase the personal income tax. The PIT is the startup entrepreneur’s business tax.”
  • “I lose patience with people who tend to wallow in mediocrity.
  • “We’re really just scratching the surface with using technology.
  • “We need to keep recruiting companies and growing what is unique to our region. It’s not only our economic mix, but also our geogeraphic proximity in mid-Atlantic region. …I would also say we have one of the greatest qualities of life, really, this region is one of the best places to live in the world. That goes for business, too.
  • “We must have a vibrant technology business community to invest capital and create capital to grow the economy. Fortunately, the Greater Philadelphia region is blessed with a diverse economy. But we cannot spend time on our laurels.

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