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Jay-Z To Philly Mayor For Moving His Festival: ‘Do They Regularly Reject Minority-Owned Businesses?’

JAY-Z Blasts Mayor

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JAY-Z is in another battle but this time it’s not against a rapper, it’s with Jim Kenney the Mayor of Philadelphia.

The dispute is over The City of Philadelphia moving Jay’s annual Made In America Festival from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to another location without letting him know.

Every Labor Day Weekend, since 2012, the festival has played host to some of the biggest names in music and has attracted people from all over the globe.

In response to the city’s decision, the rapper penned an op-ed for the Philly Inquirer and said he feels disrespected by not only the annual event being moved but the lack of communication.

“We are disappointed that the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city through a media outlet without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue or proper communication,” he wrote. “It signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city.”

In addition, Jay said that he and the festival organizers feel used by Kenney and his administration since they’ve made a lot of money for the city and have been treated so poorly.

He also stated Made In America boosted the city’s tourism and once that was accomplished it became a smaller priority to the city. On top that, Jay suggested race might be playing a factor.

“Since 2012 Made In America, one of the only minority-owned festivals, has had a positive $102.8M economic impact to Philadelphia and the festival has paid $3.4M in rent to the city,” Jay wrote. “Made In America employs over 1000 Philadelphians each day and 85% of our partners are Philadelphia based companies.

“Is this an accurate representation of how he and his administration treat partners that economically benefit his city?” he continued. “Do they regularly reject minority-owned businesses that want to continue to thrive and grow alongside his city’s people?”

JAY-Z also revealed that Kenney’s administration served his company with a legal letter and tried to halt the upcoming 2018 festival entirely.

“How does an administration merely discard an event that generates millions in income and employs the city’s people as if we are disposable now that we have served our purpose?” he asked. “The city is right in one respect, the first Made In America festival took place when there was a great need for tourism.”

“By their admission, the festival first started as a ‘unique attraction to the city on an otherwise quiet Labor Day weekend. Over the years, tourism has grown overall.’ Our question is, “How do you think that tourism grew, Mayor Kenney?” wrote Jay.

On Wednesday (July 18), at the end of a press conference, Kenney spoke about the festival being moved and the lack of communication.

“First of all I love JAY-Z,” stated Kenney. “I think he’s extremely talented. He’s very philanthropic … We were in conversation with the people we thought were communicating that to Roc Nation and to Jay-Z. Apparently they weren’t.”

Kenney then said based on a report, it would be best to move the festival to another location to alleviate stress on the Parkway’s infrastructure. The mayor also said he wants to keep a good relationship with the “4:44” rhymer and has people working behind the scenes to smooth things over.

“We are in discussion with the right people now, and I’m confident we will work everything out,” he said. “We want to keep the concert. We want to maintain a good relationship with Roc Nation, and we’re going to work hard to do that.”

You can read JAY-Z’s full letter below.

The Made in America festival is a multi-cultural platform that represents strength, freedom of speech and perseverance for artists and music lovers. Philadelphia, an iconic city, represents those ideals. The location is integral to the pulse of the festival. The Parkway is a cultural arts center that is symbolic to over 600 artists that have performed at this event. The Parkway captures the freedom and spirit of inclusivity that drew us to the city of Brotherly Love. The celebratory nature and essence of this festival has inspired locals as well as visitors from across the nation to enjoy Labor Day in Philadelphia.
 
We are disappointed that the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia would evict us from the heart of the city, through a media outlet, without a sit-down meeting, notice, dialogue or proper communication. It signifies zero appreciation for what Made In America has built alongside the phenomenal citizens of this city.
 
In fact, this administration immediately greeted us with a legal letter trying to stop the 2018 event.
 
Since 2012, Made In America, one of the only minority-owned festivals, has had a positive $102.8M economic impact to Philadelphia and the festival has paid $3.4M in rent to the City. Made In America employs over 1000 Philadelphians each day and 85% of our partners are Philadelphia based companies.
 
We have studies and reports that prove the festival significantly contributes to Philadelphia’s tourism bottom line. We cannot comment if the Mayor has reviewed any of these materials.
 
We consider this stance a failure on the Mayor’s part. Is this an accurate representation of how he and his administration treat partners that economically benefit his city? Do they regularly reject minority-owned businesses that want to continue to thrive and grow alongside his city’s people?
 
In addition to contributing to Philadelphia, since its inception, Made In America has donated $2.9M to the United Way of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Cause Village, the festival’s philanthropic footprint and hub for social action, averages more than 15,000 social actions taken over the two-days via ongoing partnerships with more than 56 charitable and activist organizations representing all causes.
 
How does an administration, merely discard an event that generates millions in income and employs the city’s people as if we are disposable now that we have served our purpose? The city is right, in one respect, the first Made In America festival took place when there was a great need for tourism. By their admission, the festival first started as a “unique attraction to the City on an otherwise quiet Labor Day weekend. Over the years, tourism has grown overall.” Our question is, “How do you think that tourism grew, Mayor Kenney?”
 
We will discuss our options internally and handle accordingly.

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