Which mayor would be best for Philly's smallest businesses?

We analyzed and ranked how Philly's mayoral candidates will support small business based on their track records and policy positions.

an icon for inspire inspire WITH Anne Gemmell Anne Gemmell Alex Hillman Alex Hillman

Estimated read time, 19 minutes.

Latest Update:
4/16/2023 to update scores and improve summaries for consistency and clarity based on community feedback.

Every single mayoral candidate has spoken about the importance of Philly’s small business community.

But how do they rank for self-employed Philadelphians like freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other forms of Independent worker?

Why Independents Matter

In 2023, a one-person business isn’t always an indication of a problem.

Sometimes there are issues of access or resources that prevent growth, or companies using worker classification to avoid responsibility.

But there is an increasingly popular “3rd way” between workers and employers that more people actively choose because it allows them a blend of flexibility and prosperity. This category includes many different business identities, so we call them Independents.

1099s are real jobs, too. Today’s Independents earn significantly more than even 5-10 years ago, challenging past beliefs of “mouse-sized businesses” that correlated headcount with revenue potential. The number of Independents who report high incomes (over $100,000) has grown rapidly in the last decade and nearly 20% of Full-Time Independents earn more than $100,000 annually.

Pew research reports that Black-owned solo businesses (a.k.a Independents) may already represent a larger slice of the total pie at 30% than other business categories, which we believe presents a significant opportunity to build on a pattern that’s already in motion. Combined with the aformentioned earning potential, Independent careers represent a disproportionate opportunity for equitable growth and opportunities.

Our citywide goals are to help 10,000 Philadelphians becomes sustainably self-employed, where business success is measured by their ability to take care of themselves, their family, and their community; and then to support 20% or more of those successfully self employed people in growing to be more caring, empathetic, and flexible next generation of employers creating equitable opportunities for Philadelphians who most need them most.

We want Philly’s next mayor to be a collaborator in this effort. We want a leader who sees these goals as a viable and equitable part of their economic development strategy. So we’ve analyzed how our goals align with their stated goals and track record, as well as their approach to collaborative leadership.

The scorecard below is a snapshot, and designed to be updated as we get new information. This is an analysis, not an endorsement. We are not an endorsing body.

Editor's Note: this scorecard and summary are focused on small business issues and in particular the wide range of self employed, one person businesses, but that focus is not an exclusion of other issues.

We agree that our next mayor's primary efforts must go into working on the top issues most affecting our citizens, with disproportionate harm of all issues impacting our Black and brown neighbors.

Many of our city's biggest challenges are interconnected, and our next mayor must address them systemically and collaboratively.

Please consider reviewing multiple sources to make your own informed decision! Other non-endorsing advocacy groups have also published scorecards focused on their focus issues, or adapting our scorecard framework to analyize the candidates track records & promises on other issues that you care about.

Our Analysis Criteria

For each candidate’s score, we analyzed three factors:

Small Business Policy. We combed through each candidate’s website for written policy plans that championed small businesses, factoring in how their track record aligned with their campaign promises. We also awarded points for anything in their track record or promises that focused on supporting people who are self employed, entrepreneurs or any other form of Independent workers.

Collaboration. We combined two primary factors when scoring each candidate on collaboration: first, we looked at their track record of coalition building to accomplish their goals, and second we scored them based on their active collaboration with the 10k Independents Project, including but not limited to their participation in our 10k Reacts video series.

Balanced interest in small/big businesses. We initially scored candidates based on their track record of standing up to corporate bullying campaigns (like the Amazon HQ project), but decided that what we really care about is a balanced approach to how the city works to attract and retain both large AND small businesses. We looked at their track record, as well as their public statements during forums and on their websites.

Our Candidate Scores & Policy Summaries

Candidate Policy Scorecard

Again, these scores are subject to change as we get more information, and this is an analysis not an endorsement.

The candidates are ordered by their total score, out of a 15 possible points.

Click each candidate’s name for their score summary

Even though Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Derek Green have suspended their campaigns, we decided to include thier scores and summaries at the end of the list of active candidates, as they both listed strong ideas and talking points that we think are worth keeping in the conversation.

Find out when we update our scores & summaries

Between now and election day, we will continue tracking the candidates and their policy statements, and making updates to these scores and summaries.

Put your email address in the box below to receive periodic (1x per week) these updates, and other related resources.

We'll keep you updated about future 10k events and resources, but never sell or share your info for any reason. We hate spam, too.

Cherelle Parker - 14/15

Cherelle Parker published a plan consistent with her track record in the Harrisburg General Assembly and in Philadelphia City Council representing the Northwest section of the city. Her constituents include many businesses bordering Montgomery County. Therefore, Parker is sensitive to the regulatory and taxation differences between the City and neighboring counties.

In 2017, Parker also launched a free and successful entrepreneurship program with the Community College of Philadelphia, Power Up Your Business. This program is neighborhood-based and has already grown into a top feeder into the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses program.

One of Parker’s key skills is coalition building, whether it’s within city hall, Harrisburg, or with partner organizations, which we’ve gotten to see both in her track record and responsiveness on the campaign trail.

Cherelle Parker scored a 14/15 on the 10K Alignment Scorecard for her consistent track record, proven collaboration skills, and collaborative actions with the 10K leadership team.

Some of Cherelle Parker’s small business policy highlights include:

  • Doubling the number of diverse and small businesses by expanding Power Up Your Biz
  • Ensure schools prepare students for in-demand jobs that do not require a college degree
  • Ensure most schools are open from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm so parents can work without worrying about before and after care
  • Build a business-friendly environment to encourage employers to stay and locate here

Room for growth and future collaboration:

  • Gain a better understanding for and include more business types beyond brick and mortar/commercial corridor businesses.
  • Beyond quality of life improvements, share specific policy goals that could attract and retain more solo business owners.
  • Collaborate with 10k towards goals of expanding the successes of Power Up your Business

10k Reacts to Cherelle Parker

Allan Domb - 13/15

Allan Domb has published his policy ideas that are consistent with his track record. He is a successful real estate entrepreneur, and his wealth has allowed him to primarily self-funded his campaign.

Instead of publishing a standalone policy vision, Allan has organized his policy positions by publishing his answers to various organizations’ candidate questionnaires on his website. Domb answers all questionnaires clearly, candidly, and full-well knowing some answers will jeopardize respective endorsements. Domb emphasizes collaboration and entrepreneurship multiple times throughout several questionnaires.

On the campaign trail, Domb has shared examples of skilled coalition building, and taking steps to organize stakeholders who aren’t coordinated on a problem. He’s been a proactive and enthusiastic collaborator with the 10k team on the campaign trail as well.

Allan Domb scored a 13/15 on the 10K Alignment Scorecard for his first hand experiences supporting entrepreneurs, his track record on City Council, and his collaborative actions on the campaign trail and stated policy vision that is very aligned with 10k focus.

Some of Allan Domb’s small business policy highlights include:

  • Operating city government efficiently and effectively for residents and businesses
  • Supporting, funding and teaching entrepreneurship and financial literacy to children and adults
  • Continuing the effort to equitably reduce business and wage taxes to alleviate burdens on extra small businesses, then retain and attract - businesses of all sizes

Room for growth and future collaboration:

  • Expand “neighborhood businesses” to include more business types beyond brick and mortar/commercial corridor businesses
  • A reframe away from “teaching entrepreneurship” to “legitimizing entrepreneurship as a career path” through actions and policy
  • As a champion of entrepreneurship, collaborate with 10k to reinforce claims about entrepreneurship and job growth numbers with specific details on how to implement ideas for getting results

10k Reacts to Allan Domb

Rebecca Rhynhart - 12/15

Rebecca Rhynhart has worked in public service but not as a legislator, so we cannot easily compare her policy ideas to her track record. On the campaign trail, she has noted past successes that include speeding up the process for paying local businesses that the city subcontracted to, and holding their prime contractors accountable when they are late to pay or violate their minority participation goals.

As the former City Controller, Rhynhart has unique experience aligning city budgets with goals and values. Her strengths include prioritizing, allocating, and holding efforts accountable to data-driven performance metrics. Many of her plans are light on specific details, but can be boiled down to “quickly and efficiently find out what works, and invest in that.”

It’s unclear exactly how Rebecca will collaborate with others, but she appears open to outside ideas which is key. She has collaborated with the 10k team on the campaign trail, and continues to be responsive.

Rebecca Rynhart scored a 12/15 on the 10K Alignment Scorecard for her accomplishments that show a commitment to accountability for results and process modernization, and her collaborative actions on the campaign trail.

Highlights from Rebecca’s small business policies include:

  • Work with business owners to identify and correct bureaucratic red tape
  • Improve access and opportunities for Black business owners
  • Work with the private sector and our education and training systems so our residents have the skills needed to fully participate in our economy - - now and into the future
  • Evaluate our tax system so it balances business growth and undue burdens on lower- and middle-income residents
  • Fund and strengthen commercial corridors despite the growth of online retail

Room for growth and future collaboration:

  • Details about how to implement her ideas
  • More inclusion and understanding of self employment and online businesses to compliment our retail districts and commercial corridors
  • As a data-driven leader, we’d love to see Rebecca and her team collaborate with us and other partners to analyze the impact that our city’s - solo-business ecosystem represents, and identify opportunities to both invest and improve

10k Reacts to Rebecca Rhynhart

Jeff Brown - 10/15

Jeff Brown is an entrepreneur who has worked with political systems, but has not been a legislator or worked in public service so we cannot easily compare his political track record to his policy ideas to his track record. On the campaign trail, he focuses on his experience as an executive, bringing new outside ideas, and his role in giving people work opportunities at scale through his businesses, non-profit efforts, and more.

Jeff speaks about various types of entrepreneurship often, including online businesses. He was raised by successful entrepreneurs, then followed the family example and built a small empire of grocery stores. He connects all of his policy ideas back to our city’s systemic and generational poverty problem, and believes we need new ideas to fix them. However, his website is very light on published policy beyond high-level ideas.

Jeff’s collaborative experience is similar to other candidates in that he works with a lot of people to put ideas into action, but the private sector and public sector have very different power dynamics. It is unclear how those collaboration skills will translate to the mayor’s office. On the campaign trail, he has been a proactive collaborator with the 10k team, and has committed to continued collaboration.

We are concerned about the lawsuit filed by the Ethics Board, alleging Brown has coordinated illegally with a major Super PAC.

Jeff Brown scored a 10/15 on the 10K Alignment Scorecard for his philanthropic commitment to seeding and supporting entrepreneurs in the earliest stages, but lost points for not publishing concrete policy ideas and the uncertainty around unethical collaboration.

Highlights from Jeff’s small business vision include:

  • Continued support of small, minority-owned businesses through funds, mentoring, inclusive of formerly incarcerated citizens
  • Valuing Black and brown entrepreneurs as a key part of ending poverty

Room for growth and future collaboration:

  • Clarifying the difference between app-based “gig work” and self employment, so both can be supported appropriately
  • Specific details about how to implement his ideas
  • Collaborating with 10k to ensure that the city’s efforts to support entrepreneurship are inclusive of Independents

10k Reacts to Jeff Brown

Helen Gym - 8/15

Helen Gym pledges to build a strong local economy, which includes: being both pro-business and pro-worker, improving support for small businesses, updating our tax structure, and improving overall quality of life.

Gym’s council record is focused on quality of life issues which would be good for attracting and retaining people who want to start and run businesses in Philadelphia, and we hope this continues and expands. However, we did not find policies in her track record that indicated her championing laws that would directly support small businesses, in particular the kinds of one person businesses we are focused on. The closest we could find was a vote against a compromise budget package with small business and wage tax reductions.

On the campaign trail, Gym has been a less responsive collaborator with the 10k team than other candidates. She did provide an introduction video, but it came 2 weeks after promised, and went over time to make points we hadn’t asked about.

After the initial publishing of this scorecard, Helen’s team responded promptly to offer constructive points of clarification and welcomed 1-1 conversation further discuss her policies past and future, so we have updated the scorecard to reflect that responsiveness and hope to continue increasing her score as we collaborate more.

Helen Gym scored an 8/15 on the 10K Alignment Scorecard for her limited track record championing small business policies, and our initial collaboration challenges compared to other candidates. We view this low score as room for growth, and hope for more collaboration towards better outcomes.

Highlights from Helen’s small business vision include:

  • Improve our quality of life to retain and attract high-quality and community-oriented employers
  • Expanding capital access to double the number of new Black and Brown led and owned businesses
  • Opening neighborhood business service hubs to help owners manage issues and pay fees

Room for growth and future collaboration:

  • Ensure that the smallest businesses and self employed people will be considered in new and improved business policies
  • Improve the collaborative relationship between Gym and our corner of the small business community
  • Collaborate to learn how Helen’s approach to policy and our goals can best align to serve more people - e.g. expanding wage theft laws to include contractor non-payment, similar to the successful “Freelance isn’t free” law in NYC

10k Reacts to Helen Gym

Amen Brown - 6/15

Amen Brown has published some small broad business policy ideas, mostly focused on rebuliding the local economy through BIRT tax reform, but within his very brief career as a PA state representative we could not find any small business focused legislation, so we cannot easily compare his political track record to his ideas.

Amen started a business at age 22, but has since left it with accusation of a messy history.

We only received a single email response from Amen’s campaign, and received a video from Amen Brown despite attempts to connect. His decision to avoid most public forums suggests an unwillingness to collaborate, as well.

Amen Brown scored a 6/15 on the 10K Alignment Scorecard, due to lack of track record championing small business policies and an uncollaborative approach to his campaign. We consider this score as room for growth, and hope for more collaboration towards better outcomes.

Highlights from Amen Brown’s policy positions include:

  • Values small businesses as the backbone of our economy but public safety issues and fears are a force that prevents new ones from starting and continuing growth.
  • Proposes a 3-year abatement for all businesses from the Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT).
  • Pledges to work with our large businesses to ensure residents are hired for good jobs.

Room for growth and future collaboration:

  • Let’s keep it simple, and respond to our requests for a video. We can re-send if you want!

Suspended Campaigns

Even though Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Derek Green have suspended their campaigns, we decided to include thier scores and summaries at the end of the list of active candidates, as they both listed strong ideas and talking points that we think are worth keeping in the conversation, and we hope to collaborate with these leaders wherever they land in the future.

Maria Quiñones-Sánchez - 14/15

Maria Quińones-Sánchez published a detailed plan for small businesses. Although she dropped out in early April, other candidates will likely recognize these strong ideas and implement some of them. Her long track record and current vision are well aligned with the 10K Independents’ Project values. Unfortunately, she was unable to secure “independent expenditures” also known as Super PAC funding.

Maria Quińones-Sánchez scored a 14/15 on our Values Scorecard.

Here are Maria Quiñones-Sánchez’ small business policy highlights:

  • Business Centers to reduce licensing hurdles and barriers to tax compliance.
  • Tax reforms and specific reductions so more businesses can start and grow here.
  • Expanded procurement opportunities and incentives for local businesses.
  • Support for businesses that want to be more web-savvy for operations or marketing.

10k Reacts to Maria Quiñones-Sánchez

Derek Green - 13/15

Derek Green published a number of tax reforms aligned with the 10k vision. Green agrees we need clarity with tax compliance and less burden on regular people and the smallest businesses.

However, he lacked sufficient funds and suspended his campaign in mid-April.

Derek Green scored a 13/15 on the 10k Values Scorecard.

We are hopeful the next mayor will carry his best ideas forward. Green’s tax reform principles are:

  • Support local businesses and family-sustaining jobs by reducing the BIRT and wage taxes.
  • Actively support small, minority-owned businesses in staying afloat in the early years.
  • Modernize the tax code by increasing the proportion of property taxes that is derived from the land, as opposed to the building so large landowners will pay a more fair rate.
  • Aggressively enforce sales taxes.
  • End the cycle of poverty by means of a direct payment to those in poverty.

10k Reacts to Derek Green

Find out when we update our scores & summaries

Between now and election day, we will continue tracking the candidates and their policy statements, and making updates to these scores and summaries.

Put your email address in the box below to receive periodic (1x per week) these updates, and other related resources.

We'll keep you updated about future 10k events and resources, but never sell or share your info for any reason. We hate spam, too.

Adapt our scorecard, please!

The 10k Independents Project are the regions advocates for our fastest growing business category, which includes a wide range of self-employment, entrepreneurship, and small business owners.

Our scores are opinionated, and we encourage you to use our scoring system to have productive conversations about the candidates!

Also, if you are an advocate for a different set of issues, we’d love for you to adapt our scorecard system for three primary issues of your own!

For example, you could swap “Small business policy” for policies that impact climate justice, public education, or anything else that you believe our city needs to be better.

Swap one column, or swap them all. If you do adapt our scoring system in any way, we only ask for an acknowledgement when distributing it, and to share your adaptation with us! Email team@10k.city to show us your version.

Thank you, and don’t forget to vote on Tuesday May 16th.

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