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Mayor Bowser Announces Bold Economic Strategy for Inclusive Prosperity

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) Brian Kenner unveiled DC’s Economic Strategy, a framework for how Washington, DC will continue its work as an international leader for inclusive economic growth and resilience. Two central goals of the strategy include growing private sector gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent to $100 billion by 2021, and ensuring that by 2021 all wards, races, and educational attainment levels have unemployment rates below 10 percent.

“I am proud to share our new economic strategy, one that reflects DC’s values and helps ensure all Washingtonians share in our continued prosperity,” said Mayor Bowser. “Every day, we are showcasing how Washington, DC’s diverse and innovative community is driving our economy. I am confident that this framework will accelerate our progress as a leader for inclusive prosperity by creating opportunities that are accessible to all, supporting longtime businesses and residents, and benefitting our most disadvantaged communities.”

The new inclusive prosperity strategy is focused on increasing the commercial tax base, creating jobs, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, and advancing economic growth. The strategy’s action framework will guide this vision by focusing on:

  • Business environment: Create a customer-centric business and regulatory environment
  • Funding: Improve access to capital and funding opportunities
  • Local identity and promotion: Support the local economy by promoting and preserving DC’s unique identity
  • Talent: Retain talent and empower residents to thrive through industry-advised career pathways and well-connected pipelines
  • Space, housing and other supports: Ensure companies have space to grow, residents have affordable housing, and other supporting drivers of inclusive economic growth are strong

Over 40 high impact initiatives will help DC grow the private sector economy and reduce unemployment disparities, particularly for African-American residents.

Initiatives, many of which are already underway, include:

  • creating an inclusive innovation fund that awards grants to local businesses;
  • securing commitments from 100 tech firms to host internships for DC students and creating an associated boot camp to prepare students;
  • launching DC FedTech, a program that connects entrepreneurs and inventors from federal research labs to advance innovation through research commercialization;
  • supporting the development of a collaborative of anchor institutions committed to increasing their procurement from local businesses, led by the Coalition for Non-Profit Housing and Economic Development;
  • creating a data-driven business retention and attraction coordinating committee;
  • comprehensively redesigning permitting and licensing systems; and
  • making resources and requirements easier to access through a business support navigator. The Business Incentives Wizard, the first significant step of this process, was launched earlier this month.

“Washington, DC is in a strong economic position, but we must continue to be forward-thinking to continue our momentum and remain economically vibrant,” said Deputy Mayor Kenner. “This framework is the result of many residents and businesses in DC who are deeply committed to seeing Washington, DC succeed. Ultimately, it will be a great tool for how we expand job opportunities for more DC residents, support local businesses, and become more resilient, inclusive and innovative.”

Since taking office in 2015, the Bowser Administration has focused on delivering economic development opportunities that put more residents on pathways to the middle class. Notable accomplishments include:

  • Completed a land purchase agreement with the U.S. Army to move Walter Reed Re-development forward, a project that will generate 6,000 jobs and $1 billion in new tax revenue;
  • Committed over $100 million to the Housing Production Trust Fund each year in office, helping to deliver over 3,100 affordable housing units serving over 6,800 DC residents;
  • Broke ground on a new state-of-the-art Entertainment and Sports Arena at St. Elizabeths East in Ward 8, creating over 900 jobs and bringing much needed economic opportunity to Congress Heights;
  • Increased spending for Small Business Enterprises by $600 million;
  • Introduced the most aggressive economic development legislation agenda in DC’s history, including 10 development projects that will produce 800 affordable housing units and over 4,400 jobs;
  • Moved forward with all four New Community Initiative development projects, with over 1,000 units completed to date;
  • Broke ground on In3, DC’s first-ever Inclusive Innovation Incubator, a venture capital space for District’s emerging startups and entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities; and
  • Finalized the new DC United soccer stadium deal that will deliver over 1,000 job opportunities for DC residents and expand economic growth along the Anacostia River.

Guided by a public-private sector Economic Strategy Advisory Committee that included directors of DC government agencies, heads of business associations, university and hospital leaders, scholars, and local entrepreneurs, the new strategy was designed to align efforts with private and nonprofit partners and was shaped by conversations that took place with more than 450 stakeholders. The strategy also incorporated community feedback from a variety of other sources including over 1,800 visitors on the website, video sessions taped with stakeholders, comprehensive plan and cultural plan meetings, and social media conversation using the #DCEconStrategy hashtag.

“When DMPED asked Think Local First DC for input on planning for the economic future of the city, it demonstrated a spirit of collaboration and an openness to shifting the paradigm of economic development,” said Raj Aggarwal, chairman of Think Local First and member of the Economic Strategy Advisory committee. “It's been encouraging to work closely with a government partner that values stakeholder engagement and collective accountability. We look forward to building on current momentum and helping the city achieve its goals outlined in the economic strategy to build a stronger local economy."

“The economic development strategy represents a tremendous opportunity to coordinate what is working in the city,” said Melissa Bradley, Professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and Member, Board of Governors of Georgetown University. “Georgetown looks forward to continuing its commitment to serving residents and businesses east of the river. We are also proud of our increased efforts to serve as an anchor institution for businesses throughout the city.”

More information about DC’s Economic Strategy can be found at