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Mayor Bowser Announces $5 Million Investment to Catalyze Innovation Districts

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

(Washington, DC) This week, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) made a $5 million investment to support the development of two innovation districts – the Penn West Equity and Innovation District (“Penn West”) led by the Golden Triangle BID in partnership with George Washington University and the Mobility Innovation District (MID) led by the Southwest BID. An innovation district is an area where existing economies and infrastructure are leveraged to spur new ideas for growth, development, and inclusive prosperity. 

“We already know that Washington, DC is home to some of the brightest minds and most passionate change-makers in the world. Now, as we make our comeback, we’re looking at how we bring in fresh ideas and make our prosperity more inclusive,” said Mayor Bowser. “These innovation districts will ensure DC remains the city of choice for employers, innovators, and anyone who is interested in launching big ideas to build a more equitable and sustainable future.” 

Located along Pennsylvania Avenue, west of the White House, within one of the region’s densest job centers, Penn West is focused on four sectors that already have a strong presence within the innovation district: health, government, education, and finance. In addition to the United States federal government agencies and the White House, the innovation district will leverage the unique presence of nearby international development organizations, such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, International Finance Corporation, and the European Union Delegation to the USA. The vision is for Penn West to become the world’s destination for uniting digital technology with public policy, equity, and social impact. A $2 million grant to the Golden Triangle BID will support the development of Penn West. 

“This partnership with Mayor Bowser’s administration and the George Washington University will catalyze the Penn West Equity and Innovation District,” said Leona Agouridis, Executive Director of the Golden Triangle BID. “With our unique location just west of the White House, we are bringing together an established business community, a world class university, international organizations, and the federal government. By harnessing the power of startups, accelerators, large companies, and researchers, we will create an ecosystem that grows DC’s tech sector, fosters equity and inclusion, and cultivates technological solutions that will change the world.”  

DMPED is also partnering with the Southwest BID to create DC’s first-ever Mobility Innovation District (MID). The MID will improve equitable access for residents and visitors in Southwest and create a global innovation hub to show how mobility innovation can make a city more equitable, sustainable, safe, and prosperous. Drawing on Southwest’s unique assets—established neighborhoods, new large-scale mixed-used developments, regional attractions, and proximity to the National Mall—the MID will attract mobility companies that bring new technology to market and create jobs in DC, and it will engage the Southwest community to improve neighborhood access and quality of life.  

For example, the MID will implement a driver-operated shuttle that will serve Southwest and increase access within the neighborhood to Metro, including for SW residents, employees, and visitors, as well as an Autonomous Vehicle (AV) shuttle.  A pilot program – “Mobility Wallet” – will provide a stipend to a group of residents to share data on their transportation patterns. Results will inform further development of the shuttle and complementary transit service. A $3 million grant to the Southwest BID will support the development of the MID. 

“The Mobility Innovation District isn’t just about innovative modes of transportation,” said Steve Moore, executive director of the Southwest BID. “It's about transforming the neighborhood economy and improving the experience of getting into and around Southwest for our neighbors. We’re unleashing the next wave of innovation and entrepreneurship and linking equity with sustainability to empower the local community. Through this partnership with Mayor Bower’s administration, we are elevating DC as the global leader in this movement.” 

The District of Columbia was recently ranked as the world’s top hub for entrepreneurial talent by the Global Cities Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTCI) due to its ability to attract and nurture entrepreneurs in a strongly connected, global city. 

“DC has some of the world’s most innovative universities, research centers, and companies,” said Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio. “The creation of the innovation district will allow us to leverage the unique strengths the city already has and attract high-growth industries that will provide new opportunities to our communities.” 

Deputy Mayor Falcicchio announced the Penn West Equity and Innovation District at the Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Forum, where he highlighted the District of Columbia’s efforts in catalyzing innovation in the DC. The Bowser Administration also recently announced the Helping Our People Endure (HOPE) initiative, a $92 million initiative to catalyze health innovation in the life sciences and address health disparities in the District of Columbia in partnership with four institutions: George Washington University, Children’s National, National Center for Health Disparities at Howard University, and Whitman-Walker. The District will apply to the US Department of Treasury for funding to advance HOPE in the coming weeks.  

All opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business in DC can be found at obviouslydc.com.

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