DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) have outlined what they describe as “DC’s Comeback Plan”.
The initiative announced on Jan. 9 “is a tool for setting DC’s economic development goals for the next five years, and it centers around making Washington, DC a place for successful businesses, opportunity-rich neighborhoods, and thriving people,” says a statement from the mayor’s office.
“This is a comeback that is focused on equity. This is about making sure we have the revenues to support our world-class city services, our robust network of social programs, and the resources – like our schools and rec centers – that keep people in DC,” Mayor Bowser said. “People stay in and come to Washington, DC because they want to change the world – because they recognize DC as a place where you can bring big ideas to life. Our comeback is about unlocking the full potential of our people, our neighborhoods, and our businesses.”
The Comeback Plan sets six goals to achieve by 2028:
- Create 35,000 new jobs in high-growth target sectors, which will include increasing apprenticeship programs and filling gaps in training and credentialing;
- Increase the share of minority-owned employer businesses to 33% of all employer businesses;
- Increase access to opportunity for residents and eliminate key amenity gaps (food, housing, and internet) across all neighborhoods;
- Add 15,000 residents to the Downtown population by adding seven million square feet of residential units;
- Retain current residents and reach a population of 725,000;
- Increase economic prosperity in DC by lifting the median household income of Black residents by $25,000.
The plan serves as the District’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and will be submitted to the U.S. Economic Development Administration in the Department of Commerce, enabling the District, local nonprofits, and universities to pursue certain types of federal funding. Reaching the goals in the plan will require action—building better education to workforce pathways, bringing amenities and assets to all eight wards, and attracting businesses. The District has tools and programs to make this possible.
One new tool the District is using to attract businesses is the Vitality Fund. The Vitality Fund is a new 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, DC.
“It will encourage employers to locate in DC and create jobs, bringing the city closer to our job creation goals in high-growth sectors, including technology,” the statement says. Expenses such as rent, tenant improvements, down payment assistance, workforce training, and recruitment can be covered with the program funds.