Philadelphia’s legacy of innovation is 250 years in the making, especially when it comes to the life sciences. We are home to America’s first hospital and its oldest and largest urban research park. According to the Drexel University College of Medicine, more than one in six doctors in the United States has received training in Philadelphia; one in six jobs and 15 percent of the region’s economic activity are directly attributed to the industry; and Greater Philadelphia is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 life sciences clusters.
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A direct beneficiary of this activity has been the medical meetings industry, helping propel hospitality and tourism to Philadelphia’s third largest industry. Currently, the life sciences account for more than 50 percent of the bookings at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, with 266 related meetings generating an estimated $370.8 million for the region in 2015. Supported by these meetings, organizations such as hotels, restaurants, small businesses, and cultural organizations sustain 68,000 hospitality jobs in Philadelphia.
PHL Life Sciences, a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), works to increase this impact by advancing Greater Philadelphia’s status as a destination for meetings and conventions in the life sciences.
A large part of our work is identifying and pursuing growth markets. Having generated nearly $250 million for the region since 1996, nursing medical meetings, in particular, have emerged as an economic imperative.
With more than 3.1 million Registered Nurses nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nursing is America’s largest health care profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic confirms that it is one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce overall, and among its highest paying large occupations.
Capitalizing on this immense market, PHL Life Sciences formed a Nursing Leadership Committee to promote Philadelphia as a destination for nursing medical meetings and conventions. Since stepping into the role of committee chair this June, Mainline Health’s Barbara Wadsworth has taken the lead in engaging chief nursing officers at the region’s top hospitals, leaders in clinical practice and research, and academic nursing deans of some of the top schools in the country, including Philadelphia’s own esteemed institutions.
Expanding Philadelphia’s vast life sciences network, our share of meetings in the nursing industry continues to increase. In September 2016, for instance, Philadelphia welcomed the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s 2016 NCLEX Conference, as well as the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses’ 2016 Annual Education Conference.
As more than 90 percent of convention groups see higher attendance in Philadelphia than in competing destinations, organizations often look to return to the city for future years. Driven by Philadelphia’s culture of innovation, industry recognition and resources like PHL Life Sciences’ Nursing Leadership Committee, life science conventions are expected to grow as an economic cornerstone in the years to come.
Bonnie Grant is executive director of PHL Life Sciences, a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Barbara Wadsworth, DNP, RN, FAAN, is senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Main Line Health and serves as chair of PHL Life Sciences’ Nursing Leadership Committee.