Jobs and Economic Development
Creating Jobs and Growing Our Economy
Fiscal responsibility in the long term also depends on getting District residents back to work. The District has neighborhoods with unemployment rates approaching 25 percent. Although the District is rich in job opportunities, some of its residents do not benefit from these opportunities because District jobs are often held by non-District residents. In response, the Gray administration has developed a dual track approach that gets residents back to work by attracting new economic development proposals that create jobs and by developing initiatives designed to equip our unemployed and underemployed residents with the skills and resources they need to find good jobs.
The Gray Administration is reducing unemployment: Despite taking office amid a still-sluggish national economy and historically high unemployment rates in the District, Mayor Gray’s efforts to get District residents back to work have been successful in reducing the unemployment rate. In November alone, the rate dropped by nearly half a percentage point. Although we still have a long way to go, the number of private-sector jobs in the District has increased by 17,100 (or 3.7 percent) since Mayor Gray took office.
Long-stalled major development projects are now moving ahead: While development in most American cities is dormant, the District of Columbia is brimming with new construction, including 14 major projects currently under construction. There are currently $2.14 billion worth of District-affiliated projects under construction, creating over 3,350 temporary construction jobs and almost 6,000 permanent jobs. They include massive private-sector-funded projects that were long stalled or tied up in red tape – such as the CityCenter project on the site of the old Convention Center and the CityMarket at O project. When complete, they will grow our economy, create jobs and bring in tens of millions of dollars in additional revenues to the District through sales taxes, property taxes as well as income taxes for new residents whom they will attract. The projects are:
- 3rd & H Street NE (Giant)
- Canal Park
- City Market at O Street
- CityCenter (Parcel A)
- Convention Center Headquarters Hotel
- Nationals Baseball Academy at Fort Dupont
- Heights on Georgia Avenue
- New Communities Initiative Lincoln Heights/Eastern Avenue Properties
- New Communities Initiative Northwest One (Site 2)
- New Communities Initiative Park Morton/The Avenue
- Progression Place/United Negro College Fund
- Rhode Island Avenue Station
- The Yards -- Boilermaker Shops
- The Yards -- D Parcel
Additional major development projects are in the pipeline for construction: Through the Gray Administration’s hard work, the District is on track to leverage $11 billion in private-sector investment that will create tens of thousands of new construction and permanent jobs over the next three to five years. Some of these include: Southwest Waterfront, Hine Junior High School, West End Development, Skyland, St. Elizabeths East Campus, M.M. Washington High School, Walter Reed, Shops at Dakota Crossing, 4800 Nannie Hellen Burroughs Avenue NE and Fifth and Eye Streets NW.
The One City ● One Hire Program is connecting unemployed District residents with jobs: The new Department of Employment Services-led project has, in its first four months, placed more than 1,400 previously jobless DC residents in positions for which they are qualified – and in its second phase, is registering employment seekers who were previously unknown to DOES and connecting them with jobs and job-training opportunities. More than 350 employers have signed on to participate in the program, and new ones are signing up almost daily.
More District contractors are hiring District residents: Mayor Gray stepped up enforcement of the District’s First Source Law, which requires city contractors to hire a certain percentage of District residents. From the passage of the First Source law in 1984 until the beginning of the Gray Administration, there were zero enforcement actions for violators. Since Mayor Gray took office, he has elevated the enforcement mechanism to the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and issued 22 enforcement warnings – with more to come. Mayor Gray has also signed new legislation strengthening the District’s capacity to implement First Source, and has launched a pilot program to incentivize contractors to hire more District residents this summer on five school modernization projects. These efforts have already catapulted the District to a 51 percent hire rate in March 2011 for the first time in over a decade.
Mayor Gray re-formed the long-dormant Workforce Investment Council: Mayor Gray has appointed two respected business and labor leaders to lead the council -- PNC Bank Senior Vice President Michael N. Harreld as chair and Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO president Joslyn Williams as vice chair -- to lead the council. The panel is assisting the Mayor in revitalizing and refocusing the District’s job-training strategy so that District residents have the skills they need to compete for jobs in the high-growth industries projected for our region’s future.
The Gray Administration has officially made the District the nation’s first 100-gigabit city: The first link in the DC government’s new high-speed fiber network, the DC Community Access Network (DC-CAN), has gone live with 100-gigabit-per-second (100G) service – enabling the kind of technology-infrastructure development vital to competing in a 21st-century economy. The initial link serves communities east of the Anacostia River, but the ultra-high-speed network will soon serve the entire District – providing infrastructure not currently available on such a large scale anywhere else in the country, and doing so at affordable prices.
Mayor Gray successfully reformed the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP): Unlike in past years -- which were marred by huge cost overruns and significant programmatic glitches -- this year the program employed thousands of youths, matched young people to jobs that suited their skill sets and career goals, had virtually no complications and came in under budget.