D.C. Commits $250 Million to Create Careers, Support Workers in D.C.

More than $250 million dollars has been committed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in her “Fair Shot” fiscal 2022 budget to attract new business and to help recovering D.C. businesses and D.C. residents create careers, not just jobs, the mayor and city officials announced at a June 14 press conference.

“The funds are part of a four-year $630 million plan through FY 2025 to ensure Washington, D.C. is competitive in attracting new high-growth companies,” Bowser said. “These investments will create jobs, support the city’s strong economic recovery, and restore the vibrancy of downtown.”

The mayor spoke from Edward R. Murrow Plaza at 1818 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, an area within the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District. Bowser and her work force development officials were surrounded by some of D.C.’s largest office buildings, restaurants, cafes and shops. They were also at a weekday site where dozens of food trucks used to serve tens of thousands of office workers. But most buildings now stand nearly empty, the shops closed – some permanently – the food trucks gone as they have been for the past year during the pandemic. The mayor’s team is focusing particularly on business recovery in the downtown area.

D.C. wants to make it easier and less expensive to start a business in D.C., District officials said.

Specific programs include: the $100 million Bridge Fund to support the hotel, restaurant, retail and entertainment industries; $34 million to 6,500 businesses through the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrant Program; $3.5 million in Streatery Winter Ready Grants and more than $5 million in Covid-19 relief funding to local child care facilities.

“We have to be competitive,” Bowser said.

“Many areas will be competing for new businesses to locate in their areas,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio.  “We have already seen a number of new businesses deciding to relocate to Washington, D.C., downtown.”

Business attraction packages to attract more enterprises are being prepared. They include the Local Job Creation fund to attract high-impact employers to the District  and a mixture of tax benefits and help with building renovation in exchange for a commitment to stay in D.C. for at least ten years and to hire D.C. residents in jobs that will lead to careers.

Much of the budgeted funds are focused on preparing the D.C. workforce such as the $30 million program for a new Employment Center Vitality and $49 million to reimagine the D.C. workforce system through expanded paid opportunities to learn on the job and prioritizing employer-driven training systems. Those programs would fund, for instance, 333 apprenticeships for youth and adults, including apprenticeships within D.C. government, subsidize employment for 1,825 residents who have barriers to employment and provide on-the-job training funding for 82 residents. They would also expand the DC Infrastructure Academy to serve 355 residents and develop employer-led training grants to create new training programs that meet employers’ needs and train 750 residents.

Other programs include $5.9 million for a Rapid Reskilling Fund providing high-demand workforce certifications for 700 residents, $12.8 million for DC Futures – tuition and student support to provide free AA/BA degrees to 1,500 residents, and $4.5 million for Career Coaches to support 5,000 unemployed residents in connecting to the employment and training opportunities that best meet their skills and experience.

“We want the D.C. workforce to be ready to take new jobs that will be career builders,” Bowser emphasized.

The main source for the job creation funds comes from the federal American Rescue Plan, the mayor said. “We are also pursuing every federal program possible to make sure we get our share. While the city is now completely open and, for health purposes, we no longer need to be in a public health emergency. Still, for the purpose of getting funds from federal programs like FEMA, the emergency designation is still important to continue.”

Maintaining the emergency designation is also part of Bowser’s determination to get all D.C. residents vaccinated.



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