PHILADELPHIA, December 10, 1998 — At “The Next American Revolution: Digital Commerce Philadelphia,” a luncheon with more than 600 business, civic and education leaders, Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell and Jeff Raikes, Microsoft group vice president for sales and marketing, announced the formation of the “Microsoft Philadelphia Electronic Commerce Initiative,” a $500,000 program to help the city become a leader in electronic commerce.
“Microsoft’s commitments are an expression of the company’s confidence in the Philadelphia region as a premier location for the future growth of information technology,” Rendell said. “Microsoft’s efforts will greatly reinforce our own initiatives in Philadelphia to attract and grow technology and knowledge-based industries.”
The Microsoft Philadelphia Electronic Commerce Initiative will make consulting, software and training grants available to local non-profit and educational organizations, which will work with local businesses to develop strong electronic commerce strategies. The initiative’s Web site, called phillyecommerce.org, will provide information, resources, and planning assistance to companies developing electronic commerce strategies. On the site, businesses can enter their electronic commerce plans into a contest. Four winning businesses will receive free consulting workshops from Microsoft Certified Solution Providers such as RDA, Database Solutions, Group Cortex, and notsoldseparately.com.
Microsoft also will invest in the Safeguard Scientifics Center for E-Commerce at Drexel University, a new program providing a cutting-edge resource and training center for electronic commerce. The company will contribute $50,000 in cash and $100,000 in software, training and consulting to the center. SafeGuard Scientifics, the largest venture capital firm in the region, will also contribute $1 million.
“Electronic commerce offers unbelievable potential to those who know how to harness it,” Raikes said. “Microsoft’s commitment to Drexel’s e-commerce efforts will focus on developing new thinking on business-to-business e-commerce opportunities and help solve problems for companies seeking to open new online selling opportunities.”
Philadelphia is already an emerging center of electronic commerce. The city is home to several strong businesses, including CDNow.com, iQVC.com, and Electronics Boutique. Microsoft investments in programs like the Electronic Commerce Initiative and the Center for E-Commerce Management at Drexel will help more companies develop strong strategies for entering the electronic commerce market, which is expected to grow to $40 billion by 2002.
“It’s exciting to work with leaders like Mayor Rendell,” Raikes said. “For the past several years I’ve observed how high-tech regions such as Seattle have added thousands of jobs to the economy through the growth of the technology industry. Mayor Rendell and the business community in Philadelphia are taking the right steps to transform Philadelphia into an electronic commerce leader, and we are pleased to support this effort.”