Mayor Bowser Outlines ‘DC’s Comeback Plan’

Create 35,000 new jobs. Add 15,000 residents to the Downtown population by adding seven million square feet of residential units there. Reach an overall population of 725,000 in five years. These are three of the six goals of “DC’s Comeback Plan,” presented Monday morning, Jan. 9, by Mayor Muriel Bowser and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio.

Sitting at a large conference table on the sixth floor of the Studio work center at 19th & Eye NW in the midst of tall modern office buildings, mostly empty since the pandemic in the west downtown area, city officials told gathered directors of important community economic development non-governmental organizations about their goals and intentions for their ambitious plans to revitalize the city. “It centers around making Washington, D.C., a place for successful businesses, opportunity-rich neighborhoods, and thriving people,” Bowser said.

Three of the six goals focus on increasing the economic well-being and opportunities particularly of the District’s African American and minority populations by increasing the share of minority-owned employer businesses to 33 percent  (currently 29 percent) and to “lift the median household income of Black residents by $25,000 (currently $49,000).”

Goal three would “increase access to opportunity for residents by eliminating key amenity gaps.” That includes “putting all Ward 7 and 8 residents within a mile of a grocery stores,” explained Bowser. It would also “ensure all D.C. residents have equitable access to affordable, high-speed and reliable internet and are empowered with the devices, tech support and digital literacy and skills to effectively use it.” The plan also includes the goal of creating 12,000 new homes affordable to households earning below 80 percent of medium family income.

“I am very excited about the goal to add 35,000 new jobs in D.C. in high-growth target sectors,” Ward 2 Council Member Brooke Pinto said to the stakeholders gathered around the table and the press assembled behind them. The high-growth job sectors to be targeted include education and research, consulting services, life sciences and health tech, communications and design, hospitality, tourism and entertainment, and technology including cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI).

“Ward 2 will have good and equal competition from other wards,” Pinto said. “We will work together to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to cost-effective processes to establish new businesses and welcome entrepreneurs in a safe environment throughout D.C. Safety is one of the city’s top priorities to make sure people want to live and have their businesses here.”

“Key to thriving, growing residence and businesses is support for schools and education,” said Ward 3 Council Member Matthew Frumin. “Good jobs and good education resources go together.”

Tools that will be used to reach these goals include special private and governmental-grant and funding programs such as the Vitality Fund – a multi-year performance-based incentive program designed to support existing companies in target industries actively planning to relocate, expand or retain their physical location in Washington, D.C., the mayor noted. “D.C. strives to be a city where every neighborhood offers its residents the chance to achieve their full potential, an urban center that is a destination of job creators and a place where people choose to live, work, visit and thrive.”

“The District seeks your big ideas by Feb. 1, 2023,” concluded Falcicchio.

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