Keeping the Phaith

By: Peter Madden

For the past number of months, as the lease expiration to our longtime HQ at 1818 Market Street loomed, we were faced with the inevitable question. To quote the Clash: should I stay, or should I go?

Relocating – or Working from Home – were of course, options. As anyone who works and/or lives in here, like many large cities in the U.S., Philadelphia is still in comeback mode, which isn’t always pretty. And we all know the headlines, from rising homelessness to escalating crime, missing leadership to empty streets. I originally established our HQ in Philly because of the great energy it had and the many options for food , fun, and entertainment it had – from restaurants to arts and culture. And if you asked anyone at AgileCat, there would be a resounding refrain that we get a lot of creative energy from being in the heart of Center City.

Plus, we reimagined our space – lovingly nicknamed “The Treehouse,” as it’s a place where our collective imagination runs wild – into a one-of-a-kind lounge-y spot, filled with splashes of golds and pinks, amazing artwork to a custom pool table, my drum set to wild cat-inspired patterns everywhere.

In a phrase, it’s a VIBE!

Though truth be told, my ears might be permanently bent after hearing so many opinions on why I “had to” leave my 20+ year location from many (mostly those who worked and lived in the ‘burbs). This led to a lot of soul searching and mirror-gazing moments. Many conversations with those bullish on the “215” and those contrarians who are convinced “the city is going to fall.”

But ultimately, I trusted my gut. I’ve learned since starting the ‘Cat that instinct is a hell of a powerful tool. And my instinct told me to stay. In the end, we are completely intertwined with Philly, and in love with our space. Many of our clients and contacts are right around the corner, even our global clients who happened to be based in the City limits, or just beyond.

This town is our playground, and when you’re in the Creative business, play is a key component to producing genuine art that comes from the deepest place. And there’s nothing like running into longtime or new contacts from the business world, a non-profit we work with, or simply an old friend, from Walnut Street to 18th. It’s true that Philadelphia feels more like a small, comfortable neighborhood than a large city.

Plus, after getting to know our new Mayor Cherelle Parker and Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel, whom in the case of the latter, I just met at a Philadelphia Police Foundation meeting (where I serve as the 15-year Vice President), I’m more convinced than ever that we are at the beginning of a major resurgence. Truly! Both leaders have an abundance of energy, a great spirit, major smarts, a seemingly endless capacity for hard work, and you can feel how intent they are in making Philadelphia all it can and should be.

So, as we enter year 23 (wow) we’re doing it with more agility – and confidence – than ever. And this Cat has never been happier or felt more right about a decision.

And when I think about this comeback story and all that Philly WILL be – and in short-order – only one phrase rings in my head. To quote Philadelphia’s own McFadden & Whitehead:

“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now!”