(Washington, DC) – This week, the Bowser Administration convened community, business, and research representatives, along with District government officials, to kick off the process for updating Washington DC’s economic development strategy. Spearheaded by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), this effort will produce a new strategy to guide economic development efforts for the next five years. The process will include opportunities for broader engagement over the summer and fall, and stakeholders are encouraged to provide input at comeback.dc.gov.
“As we stay focused on DC’s comeback, this is an opportunity to take a step back, engage the community, and ensure our economic strategy aligns with our values and goals as a city,” said Mayor Bowser. “This update comes at a critical moment – we’re equipped with lessons learned from the pandemic, we’re focused on the future of DC’s economy, and we’re relentlessly committed to preserving the legacies of our residents and neighborhoods.”
The new strategy will replace DC’s current five-year Economic Strategy, which was released in 2017. The Economic Strategy released in 2017 set two overarching goals – to increase private sector GDP to $100 billion and bring unemployment levels below 10% across all wards, races, and educational attainment levels. Despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic three years into the strategy, private sector GDP reached $105 billion in 2021, exceeding DC’s goal, and 93 percent of the recommended initiatives (40 out of 43) have been completed. Unemployment across the three dimensions was trending downwards prior to the pandemic, but there is still work to do to address geographic, racial, and socioeconomic disparities.
“Over the past two and a half years, DC residents and businesses have known loss and experienced sacrifice but what has gotten us through it all has been our resilience,” said Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio. “With our unquestionable resilience now ready to fuel our comeback, this new economic strategy will propel us beyond relief and recovery to growth and will allow us to achieve a better normal by making our growth more equitable.”
The new strategy will focus on how economic development efforts can drive tax revenue, increase the economic mobility of residents, and support the vitality and competitiveness of businesses, taking into account the enduring effects of the pandemic. It will establish new goals, metrics, and plans for action and build on recent work, including the District’s Comprehensive Plan and the Mobility Action Plan (MAP), a new framework for resident mobility that visualizes how DC residents might take advantage of District housing, financial well-being, and workforce programs to reach their personal and financial goals. Strategy development will also be informed by related efforts currently in progress, including the Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force and Tax Revision Commission. The final plan will be released in early 2023.
Ultimately, the plan will serve as the District’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), which will be submitted to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). Having an active CEDS enables nonprofits, universities, and other entities located within the District to apply for EDA grants and other resources.
This week’s kickoff session included conversations among participants, a panel discussion with diverse perspectives, and an interactive data walk on the strengths of DC’s economy as well as challenges facing its continued prosperity. In addition to the kickoff event, DMPED will hold engagements in the coming months on topics such as the future of work, the reimagination of downtown, and the creation of opportunity-rich neighborhoods for residents.
Community members and business stakeholders are encouraged to provide input at comeback.dc.gov. This website will be updated throughout the strategy development process.