New Philly Chamber President Chellie Cameron sets sights on growth, inclusion for region's businesses
A change is taking place for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber as its new President and board chair spoke during the 222nd Annual Meeting on Oct. 28.
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The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia is going through a new era with new leadership in both its executive and board leadership positions.
During the Chamber’s 222nd Annual Meeting on Friday, Oct. 28, the messaging was uniform — to continue growing the city’s business community, help Philadelphia thrive, and make it more of a world class city.
“We are absolutely ready to be a catalyst for change and for action,” said Chellie Cameron, the new President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, during the annual meeting.
Since officially becoming the Chamber’s new President and CEO in July, Cameron has been hard at work.
During her address, Cameron noted some key examples of how she is helping the Chamber become a catalyst for change and action.
“The Chamber will build on the policy successes by developing a year-round issues-based advocacy program,” she said. “We will continue our partnership with the diverse chambers to stay laser-focused on policies that drive inclusive growth.”
Secondly, Cameron noted that the Chamber will join numerous partnerships to make the city cleaner and safer for businesses, employees, residents and visitors.
“We need to make immediate progress, but with a little more than three years left to prepare for many events of 2026 — the United States Semiquincentennial, the World Cup, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, and more — we recognize the pressing need for a more comprehensive plan,” said Cameron.
In addition, she shared that the Chamber is fostering an environment of economic competitiveness so current businesses can grow and thrive, and also attract new businesses that will help create family supporting jobs.
Cameron also reiterated her three main priorities as the Chamber's new executive leader, of which she originally stated upon the announcement of her upcoming role back in May: engage its members, building on pandemic recovery initiatives, and leading with transparency and accountability.
While there are challenges ahead, Cameron said that with togetherness, a lot can get done.
“We can make Philadelphia a leader — not just second-tier, but a leader — in job creation, economic growth and visibility,” she added. “Good enough just isn’t good enough. We deserve great, we are great [and] we need to make sure everybody else understands how great we are.”
A Passing of the Torch
In addition to Cameron recently taking over as the Chamber’s new President and CEO, its board has also recently seen a change.
Sue Jacobson, who had served as the Chamber’s board chair for the past two years, has passed the torch to Michael Innocenzo.
During her remarks, Jacobson reflected on her term as board chair and the accomplishments that have taken place during that time.
Becoming board chair during the midst of what she described as “the truly historic challenge of the pandemic,” Jacobson said, she “felt the weight of the moment to do something.”
“We were clear-eyed about the need to write a new chapter for the Chamber,” said Jacobson. “We flipped the old script, and we stepped up together to meet the moment because we had to.”
She highlighted initiatives launched during the pandemic, such as Recharge and Recover PHL, which she noted “will continue to position Greater Philadelphia and the work of this organization as a national model in building a truly inclusive economy for everyone.”
However, the work will continue.
With further challenges like closing the economic gap, and addressing gun violence and public safety, Jacobson said the Chamber will continue to be at the table on nearly every key issue affecting the city and region.
“I really look forward to joining all of you in helping this Chamber and its new leaders ensure that the city and region we love truly works for everybody because this is a mission we can truly be proud of,” said Jacobson, before introducing Innocenzo.
As the new board chair, Innocenzo thanked his predecessor Jacobson for leading the Chamber during some of its most trying times.
“We are so grateful for your dedication, resilience and friendship,” said Innocenzo to Jacobson.
He added that in his new role, he is looking forward to building on that work.
“It’s about operating as one Chamber representing 1,600 members; it’s about our shared passion for making Greater Philadelphia a great place to live and work; it’s about using our platform and resources and reach to improve the quality of life for all our communities,” Innocenzo said of the job.
As someone who was born and raised in Philadelphia, Innocenzo is privy to the region’s culture, diversity and vibrance. He has seen the challenges, but also the resilience.
His goals as the new Chamber board chair is in unison with his role as President and CEO of PECO.
As PECO’s leader, he strives himself and the company on putting the community first by improving quality of life.
“Improving the quality of life for our communities and supporting a strong business climate are not mutually exclusive, but rather genuinely intertwined,” said Innocenzo.
His vision for the next two years is to continue to find collaborative ways to tackle the most pressing issues facing the region, particularly gun violence and its impact on businesses.
“The business community cannot turn a blind eye to this issue,” said Innocenzo. “The only way for our businesses to thrive and to get the outcomes we want is to hold hands with the communities that are deeply impacted by this violence.”
“As a Chamber, we will partner with government, philanthropy, community leaders and institutions to support concrete actions to reduce gun violence,” he continued.
To close, Innocenzo shared that it is important for the Chamber to look at prosperity through the lens of equity.
“We know that small businesses are the backbone of our economy, but we know that Black and Brown businesses continue to struggle disproportionately,” he said.
With more than half of the region’s population being diverse, and a much smaller percentage as business owners, support is of the utmost importance.
“As leaders, we all have a collective responsibility to elevate the quality of life for all who call Greater Philadelphia home,” Innocenzo said. “I am truly optimistic all of us… will reunite for a common purpose to create a stronger, safer, cleaner, and more equitable future for all of us.”