Vincent Orange to Host Small Business Summit, Dec. 12


At-large District Councilmember Vincent Orange was one of the leaders of a recent rally cry of “Where’s the $1 Billion?,” referencing the amount that he and others say was not spent on small businesses in the District as required by law.

Orange contends that, of the $1.4 billion that D.C. agencies were supposed to spend on programs for Small Business Enterprises (or SBEs) by the end of fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013, only $400 million was actually spent. Orange wants to know why the agencies can’t comply with the law, and he is determined to make them more accountable.

The council member is a man who knows the numbers and can effortlessly quote budgets and expenditures. His bottom line is that the money needs to circulate within the 1,200-strong SBE community so that the community can thrive and contribute to the overall economy. To that end, Orange has chaired three recent hearings which led to the passage of emergency legislation demanding the agencies must be in compliance, held a rally with 300 people, asking, “Where’s the $1 Billion?,” which garnered lots of attention from six media outlets, including the Washington Post, and has been instrumental in seeking a special “SBE Expendable Budget” audit by the District’s CFO for fiscal 2014.

Orange says that local business owners are outraged to hear about the shortage but are glad someone is looking into it.
The lack of small business support in the District is only one part of the picture, though. Orange lights up as he lists the reasons D.C. is the hottest market in the country, including a thousand new residents a month and 63 active projects, as well as some recently completed or in the works. He highlighted projects like the $7 billion Union Station development, the 11th Street Bridge project, a $2 billion Southwest Waterfront Project, the redevelopment of Walter Reed Hospital, the building of a new professional soccer stadium, and more.

But Orange brings everything back to the SBE shortfall issue by saying that – although the city provides a basis for tremendous economic success – small businesses must be brought along as well. When the money flows to small businesses, they contribute back to the economy by hiring D.C. residents and adding to D.C.’s tax coffers.

As the chair of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Orange has spearheaded a series of annual small business conferences. This year’s conference is being called the Small Business and Economic Development Summit III and will take place, 7:30 a.m., Friday, Dec. 12.

The day will begin with breakfast at the Hamilton Restaurant, followed by morning and afternoon workshops at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, with a break for lunch at the Hamilton with keynote speaker Andrew Altman, CEO of Olympic Park Legacy Company, who was responsible for the master development of the 600-acre Olympic Park in London, England. Altman was also D.C.’s City Planner under Mayor Anthony Williams. He will discuss business opportunities, tourism and enhanced branding of District of Columbia and the Washington Metropolitan Region. The event will also include workshops on D.C.’s Olympic 2024 bid, bringing “Hollywood” to the District, procuring local and federal government contracts and economic development in the District more broadly.

The cost of attending the Summit is $75, and you can register with the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at

Marilyn Thompson is the marketing/events director of the Georgetown Business Association.


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