An east-west divide continues to exist in the DC region in terms of economic development, but a group of regional leaders are pushing for equity.
Connected DMV, led by Stu Solomon, a former Accenture executive, released a report titled âRegional Economic Development Strategyâ highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of DMV.
Some of the strategies have already been discussed, such as which jurisdictions do not compete with each other. A major example: a proposal to move the FBI headquarters from the District of Columbia to a site in either Fairfax County, N. Virginia, or one of two in Prince George County, Maryland.
âYes, we’ve been down this path before,â said David Iannucci, President and CEO of Prince George’s Economic Development Corp. and member of the 23-member Connected DMV Steering Committee. “This initiative has struggled in the past, but from my perspective that doesn’t mean you don’t try again.”
Unlike previous regional efforts, there is more support from a wide variety of people in the public sector, nonprofits, academia, the business community and philanthropy.
A boost in economic development, the report said, came from Amazon H2Q in Arlington, Virginia, “told us the market wanted us to be competitive as a region.”
Some of the goals will focus on a regional branding and marketing program, form a ‘regional umbrella’ while promoting local assets, and organize regional discussions and workshops to boost education and economic opportunities in the country. east of Interstate 95 which includes DC and Prince George County.
The document summarizes how the Greater Washington area and the region’s jurisdictions rank among other regions of the country, including:
- Number one in terms of availability of tech jobs.
- Over 50 percent of people have obtained a bachelor’s degree.
- At least six million people ranked the sixth largest region in the country.
- Of the 53 “very large metropolitan areas” with a population of at least one million people, the DC region ranked 37th in population growth, 43rd in prosperity, 51st in racial inclusion, and 52nd in inclusion.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted various racial, health and environmental disparities.
The Connected DMV report also notes economic disparities, which Brookings noted years ago.
Fairfax County in Northern Virginia ranked second and Montgomery County in Maryland ranked 12th among the 150 largest counties and jurisdictions in the country in terms of economic mobility, defined as a person or family who can increase income over time.
In Prince George County and the District of Columbia, these predominantly black jurisdictions ranked 107th and 142nd, respectively.
âPrince George County has more to gain than any other jurisdiction in the metro area by addressing this fairness argument,â said Iannucci. âThere is a very deep discussion going on across the country about diversity, inclusion and equity. There is nowhere in Prince George County that is more a call to action for a combined effort to address these historic inequalities.
Food inequalities also exist in Prince George’s, with the county distributing nearly five million pounds of food since the pandemic hit the state of Maryland in March 2020.
âWhen you intentionally invest in traditionally underserved communities, then you know you are starting to turn the boat around,â said Rosie Allen-Herring, President and CEO of the National Capital Region United Way and member of the connected DMV steering committee. âMost of the time, people think of fairness as equality, which means we give everyone the same. If you go from places where the gaps are so big [and] give everyone the sameâ¦ the need and the gap still exist.