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Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
Strategic Plan
July 2000




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Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

Strategic Plan

Eric W. Price
Deputy Mayor

JULY 2000

Government of the District of Columbia
Mayor Anthony A. Williams


Economic development is fostered by a myriad of interdependent and interwoven policies and actions on the part of the government, private sector and community-based organizations. Both collaborative and independent actions by key stakeholders are required to achieve common objectives. The role of DUPED is to articulate those common objectives, develop policies and programs to achieves those objectives, identify the resources that are required or available for the task, and marshal the support and active participation of the larger community and other government agencies in implementing those policies and programs.

The District government's economic development policies and programs have three principal objectives:

Objective 1: Revitalize Neighborhoods.

This means building and sustaining healthy neighborhoods with a variety of housing and retail developments. Vibrant, diverse neighborhoods are engines for economic development. They create and reinforce a virtuous cycle of expanding economic growth and opportunity for the citizens of Washington, D.C. Strong neighborhoods are essential to our tax base and our civic life.

Objective 2: Expand and Diversify the Economy.

This requires attracting new business and industries to Washington, D.C. as well as retaining our existing businesses and helping them to expand. It also requires a streamlined regulatory process to facilitate economic development.

Objective 3: Provide Economic Opportunity for District Residents.

District residents must benefit from the economic expansion currently underway in the greater metropolitan region, and in particular from government-supported or controlled projects in the District, such as the redevelopment of the existing convention center. This includes opportunities for employment and job training as well as opportunities for entrepreneurship and procurement.

Achieving fiscal stability is the overall objective; the culmination or net result of the previous three. Ultimately, we promote economic and fiscal stability for the District by increasing our tax base. This requires increasing the number of tax paying residents and businesses that can help shoulder the financial costs of providing and maintaining a great city. Clearly, the District government must use tax revenues wisely and efficiently in addition to seeking to increase those revenues. Moreover, structural limitations imposed upon the District's economy, such as the inability to tax property used for Federal and nonprofit uses and incomes of D.C. workers who live in the surrounding jurisdictions, means that the Federal government must continue to contribute to financing the Nation's Capital. Nevertheless, our ability to provide quality parks, schools, transportation, infrastructure, health care and public safety is largely dependent upon our local tax base.

In the next section, we will describe in greater detail some of. the actions that DMPED has or will implement to further the above-described objectives.

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Strategic Initiatives

Objective 1: Revitalize Neighborhoods

Creating and sustaining vibrant, healthy neighborhoods is a primary objective of our economic development policy. This was also one of the highest priorities determined by citizens participating in the Mayor's Neighborhood Action summit. That priority is reflected in the Mayor's proposed operating and capital budgets and there are several actions that we are undertaking to advance this objective.

Strategic Initiatives:

  1. Implementing a neighborhood housing development strategy.
  2. Alleviating blight and decay.
  3. Enhancing the development and revitalization of downtown.
    • Housing
    • Retail, entertainment and culture
  4. Bringing retail to underserved neighborhoods.
  5. Using the relocation of government agencies to spur economic development.

Strategic Initiative 1:
Implementing a Neighborhood Housing Development Strategy


The purpose of the neighborhood housing production strategy, as with all economic development strategies, is to improve the quality of life for current residents of the District and to attract new residents. These new residents will help support additional retail services for all residents, build a stronger tax base, lessen the individual tax burden, and provide greater opportunity for the creation of wealth. The District has lost significant population over the last several decades and there is both the land area and the infrastructure to accommodate new growth.

Neighborhood revitalization requires a varied approach to housing development leading to rental and homeownership opportunities affordable to those with low and moderate incomes as well as market rate opportunities. These market rate opportunities must compete with similar product in the suburbs, thus requiring that this economic development strategy be linked with a neighborhood retail strategy. (Our neighborhood retail strategy is discussed in Strategic Initiative # 4.

Goals and Objectives

There are several goals and objectives for the neighborhood housing development strategy. The first and foremost is the creation of new housing opportunities in the District. It is our expectation that there can be 10,000 units created over the next five years. This estimate contemplates 2,000 units introduced in each of the next five years, based on roughly 1,000 new units and 1,000 rehabilitated units each year. We are currently well on our way to meeting the goals for this year. While the availability of new and rehabilitated housing units does not alone ensure an increase in population, there will be, given other economic development activities, a concomitant increase in population.

Another significant objective of this initiative is to grow the tax base. Greater housing opportunities will increase both the real estate tax base as well as the income tax base. The demand for rental versus homeownership will vary in different parts of the broader housing market, but meeting the demand will clearly increase the tax base and reduce the tax burden on the current base.

The third objective is to create new housing opportunities in a planned and thoughtful environment in order to meet the needs of current residents while also creating appropriate opportunities for projected residents. The planned approach will anticipate and create housing production for expected and targeted residents. Achieving the goal of increasing the District's population through the production of housing is facilitated in a planned environment. The DMPED is undertaking the development of a comprehensive housing plan that will create a clear context for the implementation of the housing production goals listed above. This is important so that the development work achievable in this market environment is coordinated to ensure the sum is greater than the parts. Without a comprehensive view in coordination with other development strategies, our goals will be difficult to attain.


Several strategies are being developed and implemented to achieve these objectives. The first strategy is to coordinate the activities of agencies involved in housing production. These agencies are: the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the Housing Authority (HA), the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) and the Office of Planning (OP). DMPED will utilize its oversight role to develop clear and coordinated programmatic goals that guide allocation of District controlled funds, reduce the processing time for decisions involving fund availability and that insure the coordinated activity results in measurable outcomes.

The second strategy is to coordinate agencies in order to address the issue of vacant and abandoned buildings and sites. There are a significant number of vacant lots and abandoned buildings, and one of the principle objectives of this strategy will be to reduce the number (approximately 4,000) by a targeted amount. Vacant lots and abandoned buildings detract from quality of life for current neighborhood residents, are a nuisance, and inhibit redevelopment and market driven investment. As such, they represent clear development opportunity.

The third strategy is to create the ability to do site assemblage and disposition. It is essential that there be a process to do it in a timely and effective fashion and which can respond to market conditions within a predictable environment. In the past, the work of land assemblage and disposition has not been done aggressively in the District. Utilization of vacant lots and abandoned buildings will require the District government to not only work with private and nonprofit developers, but will also require the government itself to have redevelopment ability and capacity.

The fourth strategy is to target the use of available, but underutilized resources. The District government, including the Housing Authority and the Board of Education, own a number of vacant and underutilized assets. A major part of this strategy will entail DMPED working in conjunction with these agencies on legal, zoning, and financing issues to facilitate the disposition of their underutilized assets.

There will be a clear focus on the availability and potential of development adjacent to and near recently developed projects. Working from points of strength is important, particularly in the more distressed areas where the market does not drive redevelopment. District resources will be targeted in both programmatic and geographic areas.

An important part of any economic development strategy is its marketing. It is important to let the development community know what the goals are and what strategies are being employed to attain those goals. Inherent in this marketing effort is recruiting the private sector to participate in the effort, individually and through partnerships.

Action Items

  • Procure for and produce comprehensive housing plan.
  • Insure the increase the production of new and rehabilitated housing units through existing DHCD programs including Homeowner Purchase Assistance Program and Homestead.
  • Convene Vacant Building Focus Group.
  • Identify and acquire initial group of vacant buildings and sites that can be acquired and disposed of in six-month period.
  • Establish ability to acquire through eminent domain for redevelopment purposes.
  • Introduction of legislative changes to facilitate disposition process.
  • Develop clear request for proposal and disposition process.
  • Establish adequate resources and staffing for disposition activity.
  • Identify additional financing resources including tax credits, tax abatement, below market financing.
  • Meet with industry groups, including the nonprofit sector, to articulate the message.

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Strategic Initiative 2:
Alleviating Blight and Decay


There are a significant number of blighted and deteriorated properties in the District, and, as is the case in most older cities in the U.S., environmental contamination. from past land uses. In addition to being a negative influence on the surrounding neighborhood, the District has the legal and moral responsibility to enforce the housing code and to eliminate dangerous conditions. To permanently strengthen neighborhoods, the quality of the built and natural environment must be improved and protected.

Goals and Objectives

The two primary objectives to this initiative are to reduce the amount of vacant and abandoned properties and to reduce the amount of sub-standard housing. The elimination of blight is an essential component to neighborhood revitalization and sets the stage for housing and commercial development. It also is an essential step toward improving the quality of life for District residents.


The strategies for achieving these goals vary, although they often involve the same agencies. DUPED will coordinate the activities of the necessary agencies: Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, the Housing Authority, the Housing Finance Agency Authority, the Office of Planning and the Corporation Counsel. DMPED will establish a system involving interagency coordination to assist in administering the housing code and, in doing so, the repercussions on the community and residents. Through improved oversight and coordination, we plan on establishing the capacity to more effectively and fairly administer the District housing code. The result will be increased and improved housing code enforcement.

In order to eliminate blight, it is necessary to make vacant sites available for development opportunities. The foundation of this strategy is site identification and investigation. A Focus Group housed with the District Housing Finance Agency has been convened for this purpose. (The activities of the Focus Group are discussed in greater detail in Strategic Initiative #1, Implementing a Neighborhood Housing Development Strategy.) This group will identify private and District owned sites and determine their suitability and availability for development.

Following site identification, the next step in this process will involve the demolition of vacant and blighted properties. DMPED is committed to the goal of demolishing 500 such housing units.

To accomplish these goals, it will be necessary for DMPED to identify, coordinate and marshal available resources. This requires an evaluation of where resources are lacking. For instance, the number of housing code inspectors will need to be increased. Also, the District will begin to pursue all legal remedies available to force landlords to maintain their properties.

It will also be necessary to involve residents in enacting change. DMPED and affiliated agencies will engage the nonprofit and advocacy communities in providing a voice for tenants of substandard properties and to assist the residents in availing themselves of the remedies existing under District law. It will also be necessary to improve overall communication and outreach with the community. The Office of Planning, through its Neighborhood Planners, and DCRA, through its Neighborhood Stabilization Program will play a critical role in improved communication with the Area Neighborhood Councils and other groups. Through greater familiarity, the designated neighborhood planners will be able to identify concerned constituents and anticipate their concerns.

Contamination from historic uses of urban property is a challenge to public health and the environment. The mere potential for contamination can complicate redevelopment, and cleanup costs can be prohibitive, particularly for smaller projects. In November, 1999, Mayor Williams kicked off the District's Brownfield Revitalization Initiative, unveiling a legislative proposal that would expand the District's capacity to cleanup and restore brownfield properties. DMPED will ensure implementation of the Brownfield Revitalization Initiative, in coordination with several affected agencies.

The Department of Health, Environmental Health Administration (EHA), sets environmental standards and regulates site remediation, and it is the responsibility of DMPED to support EHA's environmental goals and to ensure that cost concerns and interagency procedural complications do not hinder brownfield cleanup and ultimately redevelopment. DMPED's brownfield redevelopment strategy will advance environmental and redevelopment goals in tandem to ensure sustainable neighborhood revitalization.

Central elements of DMPED's brownfield strategy include expanding environmental financing options, setting redevelopment priorities, and working closely with other responsible agencies to ensure that the District gets maximum benefit from its investment in brownfield cleanup-a cleaner environment, stronger neighborhoods, and expanded job opportunities related to cleanup and redevelopment.

Action Items

  • Establish interagency team to facilitate enforcement actions.
  • Demolish properties as needed, including 500 housing units.
  • Hire new inspectors as soon as the budget process allows. Increase the number of housing code inspectors from 28 to 52. (This is still fewer than 136 inspectors the District had in 1990.)
  • Implement new technology systems that leverage human resources in order to more efficiently enhance the government's ability to identify and seek repair to substandard housing.
  • Levy civil penalties and/or file criminal charges against delinquent landlords.
  • Office of Planning, through designated neighborhood planners and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs through its Neighborhood Stabilization Program, act as District liaisons with members of the community.
  • Neighborhood planners. initiate dialogue with the community, establish two-way communication and troubleshoot.
  • Solicit involvement of non-profit and advocacy community in triggering and participating in the enforcement process. Improve cooperation between District agencies and these groups.
  • Coordinate development of a brownfield financing toolkit that will provide support for cleanup, without subsidizing polluting activities. Toolkit will include existing resources, new financing options and efforts to expand federal participation in cleanup.
  • Ensure that brownfield cleanup efforts are coordinated with other key neighborhood revitalization strategies such as the Vacant Building Focus Group, and neighborhood planning activities and workforce development programs. Also, coordinate neighborhood revitalization priorities with EHA's remediation programs.
  • Support passage of brownfield legislation that supports both environmental and redevelopment goals.
  • Participate in Interagency Brownfield Taskforce and assist agencies with streamlined permitting procedures.

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Strategic Initiative 3:
Enhancing the Development and Revitalization of Downtown - Housing


Great cities have a vibrant downtown -- a gathering place that mixes commercial, retail and residential activity that attracts visitors and residents 18 hours a day. A lively downtown is also attractive to potential businesses and residents. Increasing the supply of housing located in the downtown area is an important element of creating a living downtown that is active 18 hours a day. Housing also generates greater tax revenue for the District than office space because the residential income tax payments and residential sales tax multiplier outweigh the difference in property taxes and the office sales tax multiplier.

Goals and Objectives

The District's Comprehensive Plan calls for 5,400 housing units south of Massachusetts Avenue. The current number of housing units downtown is 1,400. 635 units are planned to be built in the next two years. Current downtown zoning requirements on the five remaining vacant lots with a housing overlay require another 655 units. Another 610 units could be constructed on District-owned property. Thus, the total housing from these sources is 3,300--short of the Comprehensive Plan goal. The new 1,900 units are estimated to generate annually between $16 million and $21 million in new District tax revenues: between $7 million and $10 million in income taxes, between $6 million and $7 million in property taxes and between $3 million and $4 million in sales taxes. At a substantial cost to the District, another 680 units could be constructed on the five remaining vacant lots with the housing overlay.


Downtown housing was not built for many years because the financial returns from the construction of office buildings were substantially higher in comparison to housing. However, the difference in economics between office and housing is smaller than it has been for a long time due to the tight rental market in the District. Thus, the cost of housing subsidization may be at a relative low point. In fact, in today's market, developers are willing to build housing on selected downtown sites that are not well situated for office buildings and are on the fringe of downtown. But in the center of downtown, the District would need to subsidize housing development in order to foster its creation on those sites that are good to prime sites for office buildings, and to meet the Downtown housing goals stated in the Comprehensive Plan.

The first strategy is to make sure that the current zoning requirements are maintained and the 655 zoning-required housing units are built. This strategy would be a departure from the District's past when many housing requirements were circumvented which is why the District cannot reach the Comprehensive Plan's goal of 5,400 units. The second strategy calls for maximizing use of all District-owned downtown land for housing. A third strategy, and an expensive strategy, would be the use of financial incentives to induce the construction of another possible 680 units on the five remaining downtown vacant lots (these are the lots not yet built on because developers are waiting for a change in the combined lot procedures).

Potential housing incentives include the following:

  • Developers will pay to pass their housing requirements on to a third party site if the District's "combined lot" procedures are modified to allow the certificate of occupancy for the office development to be issued prior to the building of the housing. The payee can then use the combined lot payment to "subsidize" their housing project. In addition, the payee must change its deed to reflect the increase in housing requirements transferred to it by the combined lot process.
  • The District can provide property tax abatement and transfer tax abatement. Such a program would need to be carefully defined to limit the impact on the District's budget. The abatements would be granted on a case-by-case basis in order to produce a market return-on-equity given that the price of land in most parts of downtown is driven by office use.

Action Items

  • Issue the Downtown Action Plan 2000 by July 31, 2000. The Office of Planning is spearheading the drafting of the District's Downtown Action Plan, including a Downtown Housing Plan, with the support of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
  • Revise the Comprehensive Plan's downtown housing goals to reflect the reality of the limited supply of empty lots downtown.
  • Consider moving Downtown's unmet housing goals to NOMA-Mt Vernon Square (from 3rd to 7th streets, NW between Massachusetts and New York Avenues, NW).
  • Introduce the following legislation:
    • Combined Procedures Changes
    • Housing Real Property Tax Abatement Program
    • Other Housing Tax Abatement Programs
  • Proceed with Requests For Proposals on the following District owned sites:
    • Mather Building [Note: this property may be made available for other uses.]
    • Recorder of Deeds Building
    • Department of Employment Services Building
  • Strongly consider housing as part of the redevelopment of the existing Convention Center site.

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Strategic Initiative 4:
Bringing Retail To Underserved Neighborhoods


The basic purpose of the neighborhood retail strategy is to improve the quality of life for all residents of the District of Columbia by making available basic goods and services that are an integral part of a healthy neighborhood. In this case the quality of life will be improved by making shopping venues more easily accessible to the public. Expansion of neighborhood retail also enhances the creation of wealth through job creation and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Goals and Objectives

There are several objectives of this program. First, we want to be able to offer convenient retail services to residents in every part of Washington, D.C. In particular, our goal is to bring two new supermarkets East of the Anacostia River. Currently, many of our citizens are forced to leave their neighborhoods, and in fact their city, to purchase needed goods at reasonable prices. "Leakage" rates for retail expenditures (i.e. the percentage of expenditures made outside a given local area) in many District communities are in excess of 75%. Another objective of this program is to provide critically needed jobs for D.C. residents. The availability of entry-level retail positions can be the start of a career path for many of our unemployed. Additional jobs will be created in the construction field as new facilities are built. If current brownfields are redeveloped, there is the opportunity for training and job creation in the environmental industry as well.

Certainly one of the prime objectives is to increase tax revenues for the city. Development of neighborhood retail centers will add millions of dollars a year to the city's coffers. As city-owned land is put to commercial use, property taxes will again be collected. Sales taxes that currently go to Maryland and Virginia could be captured by the District to fund better services for its residents. As jobs are provided to residents, they too become tax paying citizens. The additional incomes to some families may enable them to move from being renters to becoming homeowners, and the real estate taxes they pay will again add to the tax base.

Still another goal of this initiative is the attraction of new residents to the city. The availability of convenient shopping within the neighborhood adds considerably to the attractiveness of that community, and we would anticipate that there would be more interest in locating and relocating in the District when such amenities are available to residents. Similarly, current residents will not feel that they have to move in order to live in a better neighborhood, so retention of current residents will be improved.

The neighborhood retail strategy will stimulate growth of the private sector, thereby helping to diversify the District's economic base and adding the dimension of sustainability to our overall economic development plans.

Finally, one objective of the neighborhood retail strategy will be to create opportunities for entrepreneurial endeavors by D.C. residents. Small business suppliers and complementary retailers will find new markets being opened up to them.

Strategies In order to attract national retailers to our neighborhoods, we must first make the industry aware of the tremendous sales volume potential within the city's neighborhoods. This will require creative and targeted marketing-by the city. The Office of Planning will be asked to provide information regarding economic profiles and trending data on various communities. The Washington D.C. Marketing Center will play a key role in outreach efforts, using this data to help target specific retailers.

The District must take full advantage of existing infrastructure that could support successful neighborhood retail development, particularly the Metro system. The ability to attract and service customers without having to rely as much on costly space for automobiles makes retail development at and near metro stations a natural.

The District must also create additional infrastructure or enhancements where needed. The paving of streets, improvement of streetscapes, addition of lighting, and other features all add to the attractiveness of a site for retailers.

In order to attract investment in our neighborhoods, we must ensure that investment incentives such as tax credits are in place and that they are marketed effectively. Enterprise zones, revenue bonds, neighborhood TIF districts and other incentive programs should be aggressively marketed at every opportunity.

It is important to bring all possible resources to bear to make this initiative successful. Hence, we need to coordinate activities with all agencies that can expedite the plan (e.g. DOES, DCRA, DHCD, DPW). Developing a focused response by all of these agencies will send the message that locating in the neighborhoods is fully supported by the D.C. government.

Because sites of sufficient size are difficult to come by, we should make D.C.-owned land available where feasible and use eminent domain where needed to help assemble parcels that will attract retailers. It is possible that new legislation on this front will be required. Converting land which is either vacant or not on the tax rolls to productive use creates a win for the neighborhood residents and for the city as a whole. A proactive brownfield development program could also return several unused parcels to productive, revenue-generating use.

Where possible, initial neighborhood retail development efforts should serve as a catalyst to further development, thus creating synergies to fuel a "growth engine". General merchandise stores should be located near grocers. The addition of specialty stores such as electronics stores, home improvement centers, office products distributors, toy stores, etc. can create a dynamic that enhances the viability of all.

Action Items

  • Identify specific sites for potential retail development. Begin establishment of three major retail hubs near public transportation.
  • Pursue brownfield legislation in order to facilitate use of currently underutilized sites.
  • Execute the required land assemblage (may require new legislation).
  • Identify the specific vehicle that will be used to finance the project.
  • Perform a thorough analysis of specific benefits to the affected community and share this with the community.
  • Create facilitated permitting and approval process in agencies and commissions.
  • Expand marketing efforts.
  • Pursue complementary retail development.

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Strategic Initiative 5:
Using The Relocation Of Government Agencies To Spur Economic Development


Locating municipal centers in targeted neighborhoods will have a catalytic effect on neighborhood revitalization -- increasing public safety and attracting retail and other consumer services into the District's neighborhoods. In the near future, the Mayor will announce the relocation of over one million square feet of government occupied office space with retail components into under-invested neighborhoods.

Goals and Objectives

The goal of the Mayor's Government Centers initiative is to replicate in other neighborhoods throughout the District of Columbia the revitalizing impact that the construction of the Reeves Center is having on the U Street corridor. Based on recent analysis, it is projected that this second major phase of relocating government centers into neighborhood-commercial districts will generate, at a minimum, the economic development benefits discussed below.

The relocation of government agencies to various areas of the District sends a clear and direct message regarding the City's long-term commitment to revitalizing and maintaining the neighborhood commercial district. It signals to private investors that neighborhoods are on the upswing and that their investments will be safe. The centers will promote greater stability of neighborhood commercial corridors by bringing District employees and visitors to eat in neighborhood restaurants and shop in local business establishments. They will also encourage reinvestment by existing businesses and property owners, attract employee homebuyers who want to live near their offices, and create a focus for development of new retail and service establishments to serve neighborhood residents and government employees.

The investment resulting from the Government Centers will generate between 600 and 1,300 new permanent jobs as well as between 2,000 and 2,300 person-years of employment during the construction period. In addition, spin-off jobs should be created by expansion of certain pre-existing businesses located within close proximity of the new government centers as well as through new businesses expected to locate near the centers to take advantage of the service needs of Center employees (e.g., restaurants, drugstores, etc.). These new jobs in the neighborhoods present an opportunity for District residents to better compete for and retain jobs that do not require a lengthy commute.

The new economic activity resulting from the government centers is expected to generate between to $1.8 and $5.1 million in annual tax revenues. These revenues will include retail sales taxes, real property taxes on new private development, personal property taxes paid by new retail and office-based businesses, and personal income taxes from the employees of these new private businesses. Not included in this estimate are the potentially significant increases in property tax revenues resulting from overall increases in the value of real estate in the neighborhood commercial districts and surrounding residential areas. Additionally, a number of new housing and infill housing opportunities are presented by the planned locations of several of the Centers.


The Office of Property Management, working with appropriate real estate development consultants and DMPED staff, will be the lead agency in implementing this initiative. Optional sites have been identified and substantial analysis has been undertaken to assess which agencies should be relocated to targeted neighborhoods. Funds to complete site acquisition for the centers have been included in the Mayor's capital budget. Consultation with the agencies involved is on going to ensure that the proposed relocation will meet their needs and the customers they serve.

Action Items

  • Complete site assemblage. Two of the proposed Center sites require parcels that should be acquired to fully capture their development potential.
  • Confirm that all proposed Center sites can accommodate the agencies and offices being considered for the relocation. This will require consultation with a commercial development specialist with expertise in the development of municipal centers.
  • Finalize a Memorandum of Understanding detailing a land swap between the District government and a private owner in order to maximize the development potential of one of the planned Government Center sites.
  • Select a design based on recommended options. Consider instituting a design competition.
  • Finalize and issue the RFP.
  • Mayor to begin rollout of site selections of the Government Centers.

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Objective 2: Expand and Diversify the Economy.

The objective of expanding and diversifying the economy is necessary for the long-term financial stability of the District. It is also important for job creation and the overall quality of life. DMPED will seek to take actions to strengthen and diversify the District's revenue base by establishing a more hospitable business climate for our existing enterprises and by adopting policies and procedures calculated to attract and encourage additional industry, trade, and commerce, and increase resident employment.

Strategic Initiatives:

  1. Attracting and retaining businesses.
  2. Creating a special emphasis on attracting technology.
  3. Streamlining the regulatory process.

Strategic Initiative 6:
Attracting and Retaining Business


The District must take prompt and decisive actions to strengthen and diversify its revenue base by establishing a more hospitable business climate for our existing enterprises and citizens and by adopting policies and procedures calculated to attract and encourage additional industry, trade, commerce, and increase resident employment.

Goals and Objectives

DMPED will create and implement an efficient organizational infrastructure for business attraction and retention efforts. By doing so, we will fill a void by establishing policies and procedures for providing timely and complete responses to businesses' assistance requests. In addition, we will establish methods for proactively reaching out to businesses we seek to bring to and keep in the District.


DMPED has established a designated Business Attraction and Retention Team. The members of this team will be assigned various duties and roles in an organized scheme to address identified objectives. These designated staff will interface with the business community including private sector companies seeking to do business in the District as well as associations, groups and individuals, including, but not limited to business improvement districts, industry-specific consortia and other business associations. They will also devise and implement strategies to solicit and direct private sector involvement in various initiatives of DMPED.

Members of this team will participate in an Intra-governmental Working Group that will respond to service requests. Through formation of this Working Group, DMPED will establish a single point of contact for multi-agency receipt of requests and the delivery of services to businesses seeking to locate or expand operations in the District. Components will feature dedicated telephone lines, reception services, and development and dissemination of an economic development directory that identifies Economic Development Working Group members and web site addresses.

This group will establish direct lines of staff communication and minimize confusion and duplication of effort. The Working Group will facilitate better coordination of the city's businesses and neighborhood development activities by enlisting the assistance of commercial and residential brokers, community development corporations, entrepreneurs and District agencies in policy and program planning and execution; and will enhance programmatic and fiscal efficiencies by combining and maximizing the ability to leverage limited public resources.

The Business Attraction and Retention Team will also create partnerships with and pursue targeted industries, including: Business / Professional / Financial / Association Services, Hospitality / Entertainment / Tourism / Specialty Retail, Universities / Educational / Research Institutions, Biomedical Research / Health Services, Media / Publications, Information Technology / Telecommunications. Alliances will be formed by the DMPED through the establishment of public-private working groups that will solicit feedback on methods for attracting and retaining businesses within the targeted industry. These will include issues such as incentives, environment, workforce, zoning and regulatory requirements. Pertinent research will be identified and applied and, if necessary, gathered to support these efforts. The first of these, The Digital Capital Alliance will serve as a working prototype for development of future alliances. (For more on the Digital Capital Alliance, refer to Strategic Initiative #7.)

Members of the team will participate in industry-driven groups, as well. Examples include economic development focused consortia created by groups such as the Building Industry Association and the University, Education and Research Institutions Network. This function includes participation in trade associations of target industries, such as the International Council of Shopping Centers and DC Tech.

DMPED staff will plan and coordinate the activities of the Mayor's Business Roundtable, a major business advisory group launched by the Mayor. The Roundtable is a public-private partnership with seven working committees: education, economic development, health and human services, internal management, public/government relations, public safety and transportation. The DMPED will chair the economic development committee. The goals of this committee will be established based on priorities within our Strategic Plan.

Finally, DMPED will fluid and staff the Marketing Center, a vehicle created to market the city and attract business. Members of the Business Attraction and Retention Team will utilize the Marketing Center as a resource. Members of the team will work with the Marketing Center to develop materials to market the District and specific economic development programs. Marketing Center staff will respond with a cohesive media campaign.

A point person within the Business Attraction and Retention Team will be assigned to work with DC Business Connections, a program of the Marketing Center created to improve business retention and promote a more "user-friendly" city. DC Business Connections links businesses to the District and government services and solicits input on how we might help them grow and stay in the District. The point person focused on business retention will respond to requests received through DC Business Connections and work to assure the retention of businesses that may be lost to other jurisdictions.

Actions Items

  • Create Intra-governmental Working Group.

  • Arrange one support staff for Intra-governmental Working Group through the Marketing Center.

  • Intra-governmental Working Group establishes and disseminates procedures for responses to business requests, including identification of and contact information for Group members, contact members.

  • Establish alliances with targeted industries.

  • Ongoing participation in established industry groups.

  • Ongoing coordination of the Mayor's Business Roundtable.

  • DMPED chairs economic development committee of the Business Roundtable.

  • Fund and staff Marketing Center.

  • Marketing Center develops media campaign.

  • Assign point person to work with DC Business Connections.

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Strategic Initiative 7:
Creating a Special Emphasis on Attracting Technology


Our Nation's Capital is the epicenter of the explosion of internet-based advances in biomedicine, telecommunications, finance, education, entertainment and other fields of human endeavor. Despite its enviable position, however, the District of Columbia today is home to disproportionately few of the internet service providers, venture capitalists, software developers, e-business entrepreneurs, and related enterprises that constitute the intellectual and financial backbone of this new industry.

Goals and Objectives

By implementing a technology initiative, DMPED will improve collaboration between representatives of various technology industry clusters, government, civic and neighborhood stakeholders to address mutual interests, facility and workforce needs. The result will be growth in this industry sector with the benefits of attracting the supporting workforce as residents, increasing the tax base and creating job opportunities for District residents.

Creation of a technology alliance fits within the overall strategy of attracting and retaining business. DMPED will target various industry groups and the technology initiative will serve as a prototype for future alliances.


DMPED will form the Digital Capital Alliance. The Alliance is an informal collaborative of business, civic, academic, and government leaders formed to identify and help implement public and private infrastructure development policies and practices needed by the industry to thrive in the District. The Alliance will also identify and help eliminate legal, regulatory, financial, logistical, physical and perceptual impediments to expansion of this industry sector in the District. Finally, it will promote the competitive advantages offered by the District to the investors and entrepreneurs of information-based technologies.

With the Digital Capital Alliance, DMPED will convene a series of seminars, conferences and meetings with specific industry representatives to apprise them of opportunities offered by the District and to better understand and respond to particular needs of the respective interests. Through these sessions, the Alliance will examine selected issues and identify and recommend responsive actions. Studies, reports and consensus will form the bases for federal and local legislative reforms, private agreements and other remedial actions that can be implemented promptly.

Sub-committees will be formed to focus on specific issues. Prospective committees include Capital Access, Competitive Advantages of our Nation's Capital, Local Taxation and Regulation and Public-Private Infrastructure. These committees will work on developing specific projects, such as identifying seed money for a technology incubator, promotional and marketing materials, regulatory reforms, workforce development and strategies for improving the infrastructure that will allow technology to flourish throughout the District.

DMPED will implement strategic reforms that relieve industry tax and regulatory burdens, consistent with fiscal and public safety limitations. This will include identifying and neutralizing the impact of specific taxable incidents that account for the disparity in the District's total tax burden as compared with that of successful technology centers and with metropolitan area competitors. The plan and underlying legislative and regulatory reforms must be designed to:

  • accommodate the capital investment and operating requirements of the technology industry and target enterprises;

  • increase the number and variety of technology-related companies within designated high priority development areas of the District; and

  • attract specific types of or various technology companies to locations throughout the District.

Action Items 

  • Designate staff to coordinate activities and participate in Digital Capital Alliance.

  • Convene working sessions; identify issues and develop recommendations.

  • Create Sub-Committees; identify goals and action plans.

  • Implement regulatory and tax reforms.

  • Address capital requirements; identify seed money for incubator program.

  • Facilitate increased direct communications between District-based technology companies, venture capital firms, traditional banks, developers, building owners, facility managers, brokers, architects, contractors and others involved in building construction, the sale, purchase, design, and lease of commercial and industrial buildings and facility improvements.

  • Develop materials to promote the District to the technology industry. Utilize Marketing Center in this effort.

  • Obtain industry input on, and cooperation in addressing, District based technology workforce development needs.

  • Identify infrastructure requirements to allow technology to flourish citywide.

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Strategic Initiative 8:
Streamlining the Regulatory Process


One of the most essential foundations for an expanding economy is a streamlined and responsive regulatory process. This element is critical to both existing and prospective businesses as well as residents involved in building or renovation. Historically, the District has not performed well in this area Reforms have been identified and significant progress has been made. However, further work must be done to accomplish and build upon these initial reforms. The streamlining process will be an ongoing one that requires continual refinement.

Goals and Objectives 

The ultimate goal of streamlining regulations is to facilitate the construction and renovation process as well as ensure compliance with a wide array of regulations including but not limited to zoning, public health and safety. To attract and retain businesses and residents, it is essential that the regulatory functions promote, rather than hinder, economic expansion and fair regulatory enforcement. As such, they must be responsive to their constituency: commercial enterprises and residents.

In order to respond to this constituency, processes should become more efficient and predictable. This allows planners and builders to carry out projects on time and within budget. Delays in permitting and licensing can hinder complex funding arrangements and, ultimately, completion dates. Moreover, builders and residents should receive consistent feedback regarding zoning, both from policy makers and inspectors.

The District competes with neighboring jurisdictions seeking to attract business. Our regulatory process must be as good or better than our neighbors' if we are serious about economic expansion. Effective reforms must be implemented quickly in order to sustain the potential growth resulting from the current economic climate. Constituents are noticing improvements from reforms that have already been instituted. These improvements must continue on a consistent basis and grow.


Numerous agencies and commissions participate in this regulatory process. Primarily, they include functions within the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), the Zoning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). However, numerous other agencies perform critical roles in the process. Among these are the Department of Public Works (DPW), the DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA), the Department of Health (DOH), the Office of Planning and the Corporation Counsel. Utilities, such as PEPCO and Washington Gas, also come into play. To work effectively, all of these entities must work in concert.

The first step toward streamlining the process is to identify existing functional burners that prevent efficiencies. The essential tasks are housed in different agencies with independent management and reporting structures. Some departments are in completely separate management "towers" and others, including the Zoning Commission and the BZA (and the Office of Zoning that supports them) are independent boards not subject to effective government management. This functional understanding will serve as the basis for structural revisions and, or, the identification of ways to work more efficiently within current structures.

Where possible, the structure should be revised to allow greater efficiency. For instance, in addition to the Office of Zoning, there is a zoning function within DCRA. DCRA enforces zoning policies developed by the Zoning Commission and the BZA. DPW is responsible for steps of the permitting process (involving public space) that are otherwise handled by DCRA. Although staff of outside departments involved in the permitting process, including DPW, are housed there, DCRA does not exert direct management authority over them. Historic Preservation Review Board staff are part of DCRA but impact the Office of Planning. Great efficiencies could be achieved through a reengineered process.

Such re-engineering is ambitious and would be a lengthy process even if a consensus exists to make immediate changes. Therefore, while structural changes are considered, negotiated, planned and implemented, methods to work efficiently within the current system must be adopted. This process is under way through many inter-agency and intra-agency working groups and efficiency programs, of which some examples follow. DCRA has implemented the Development Ambassadors Program to streamline the permitting process and make it more responsive. The Building and Land Regulation Administration, which houses the Ambassadors Program, also coordinates an InterAgency Regulatory Reform group which meets monthly and focuses on process improvement. The Office of Planning coordinates other working groups. These proliferating task forces are an effective "bottom-up" tool for improving the process. Identifying these groups and their functions, broadening participation to all parties to the process, and communicating their missions and accomplishments would maximize their potential. In addition, directors of each agency have adopted strategic plans that establish goals for improvements and reforms.

Communication is essential to the delivery of quality services and to improving the efficiency of the current system. The "right hand" must know what the "left hand" is doing. The various working groups are a forum for improved communication. However, methods must still be developed to improve communication between those that develop and those that enforce zoning policy.

Regulatory processes must also be clearly communicated to the community in whatever methods possible. Web-sites, industry meetings, community outreach are all modes currently employed and should be encouraged. This communication should be a "two way street". Those that depend on these services are often the best source of input. Numerous studies focused on reform have been conducted through various public-private partnerships and their recommendations should continue to be reviewed and implemented where appropriate.

Industry and neighborhood groups should be consulted as processes are refined.

At the end of this process of examination is action. Specific reforms must be enacted as quickly as possible in order to maximize their potential impact. Many reforms have already been identified and proposed - some are complete, others are in the process of being implemented and still others remain outstanding. These actions should be considered a starting point in the ongoing process of reform.

Action Items

  • Establishment of DCRA Executive Assistant for regulatory reform.
  • Form comprehensive review committee for zoning reform.
  • Identify and eliminate barriers to efficiency.
  • Revise structures, merge functions where viable.
  • Prepare Mayor's Executive Order to transfer the Office of Public Space, Permit and Records Division, from DPW to DCRA.
  • Review building code to eliminate unnecessary elements.
  • Codification of zoning decisions (zoning administrator, BZA, courts).
  • Implement Automation: expansion of on-line permit process, implement remote access property inspection dispatch system to building code inspections (RAPIDS), automate Surveyor's office.
  • Improve internal and external communication.

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Objective 3: Provide Economic Opportunity for District Residents.

Strengthening job opportunities for District residents will provide a foundation for sustained economic well-being for individual residents, families and the city as a whole. We must do all we can to ensure efficient and effective government funded employment programs. In addition, we should use the leverage of government supported incentive packages to create job and business opportunities for District residents and enterprises.

Strategic Initiatives

  1. Ensuring that District residents benefit from government supported development. 
    • job opportunities 
    • procurement
  2. Participating in the Workforce Investment Council.

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Strategic Initiative 9:
Ensuring That District Residents Benefit From Government Supported Development


The District offers financial incentives to businesses to spark development in targeted geographic areas and to encourage certain types of projects. Among these are the various tax-exempt bond programs available to qualifying projects. These incentives include Industrial Revenue Bonds, General Obligation Bonds, Enterprise Zone Bonds and Tax Incremental Financing. In return, the entities that benefit from these incentives are obligated to hire District residents and contract District businesses.

Goals and Objectives

By using its leverage, the District cannot only spur growth, it can also direct the benefits of economic expansion. In this case, it can support development and also ensure that economic opportunities are created for District residents and businesses. The desired result is expanded job, training and apprenticeship opportunities for District residents as well as greater procurement opportunities for "local, small and disadvantaged business enterprises" (LSDBEs). It only makes sense that these stakeholders benefit from the financial incentives the District provides to developers and investors to spur growth.


Mechanisms are in place through the statutory guidelines of the revenue bond programs to ensure the provision of specified employment and procurement opportunities. Before District approval is granted, applicants must complete, execute and deliver to the District agreements regarding the employment of District residents (First Source Employment Agreement) and the engagement of businesses certified by the Office of Local Business Development (Memorandum of Understanding). Developers must make best efforts to see that the hiring, apprenticeship and procurement requirements are met. However, the requirements are not strict in recognition that, despite all attempts, qualified candidates may not be available. Without proper monitoring and enforcement, these mechanisms will not meet our objectives. A team approach between the DMPED and the Department of Employment Services (DOES) and the Office of Local Business Development (OLBD) will ensure greater success.

The DMPED works with developers and businesses seeking to undertake construction projects in the District. We often provide and explain information on the development tools available and facilitate the decision-making process. We promote the use of the bond programs to attract economic development. In addition, we oversee large projects to ensure their expeditious progress. This oversight role, requires us to trouble-shoot a variety of problems and impediments. Part of this role entails fostering communication between the players regarding the employment and procurement agreements. We are in a unique position to identify issues in this area, as they arise, an hopefully identify solutions in the early stages.

DOES' First Source Agreement Program assures city residents priority for new jobs created by municipal financing and development programs. The required Agreement stipulates that all job openings created are listed with the Employment Service and 51% of the new hires must be District residents. DOES acts as an employment service recruiting, referring and placing qualified employees to the developers, builders and employers. In addition, they monitor compliance with the regulations. For example, during the on-going operations of TIF Projects until the TIF bonds are retired, 51% of all new employees, including tenants, must be District residents. In addition, DOES works with the general contractor and all subcontractors to assure that they participate in the District's apprenticeship and subapprenticeship programs. Although penalties apply on certain programs for non-compliance, the desired result is successful fulfillment of the employment goals. (There will be penalties equal to 5% of the value of unfulfilled worker salaries, except for cases where the District cannot produce acceptable employees.)

OLDB acts in a similar role as DOES. They certify that businesses qualify for the LSDBE designation and supply the end-users with lists of these businesses. They also monitor compliance with the memorandum(s) of understanding that stipulate use of LSDBEs. During the on-going operations of the TIF Project, contracts equal to 35% of the dollar amount of all out-sourced work for the first five years of operation must go to local, small or disadvantaged companies. The five-year limitation is set-up as the program is intended to provide LSDBEs with the opportunity to compete; after five years they should have learned how to compete without a special program. (The developers will be required to set-up a contracting bid page on their project web-site, so they can post information regarding up-coming contracting bids.) Again, there will be penalties equal to 5% of the value unfulfilled, except for cases where the District cannot produce an acceptable contractor.

Although many of these programs are relatively new, their utilization has begun. The necessary mechanisms are in place. For example, the negotiations on the Gallery Place project are complete, and negotiations on the Mandarin projects are nearing completion. These are both TIF projects.

Action Items

  • DMPED will continue to facilitate and "troubleshoot" the use of economic development tools available through the Revenue Bond Program that result in employment and procurement opportunities for District residents and businesses.
  • Work with the Department of Employment Services and developers early on in the planning process to assure that during the construction phase of TIF Projects, 51 % of all new construction employees will be District residents.
  • The Department of Employment Services will monitor compliance with and results of the First Source Agreement Program and provide technical assistance, as needed, to those companies that are not in compliance.
  • Work with the Office of Local Business Development and developers early on in the planning process to assure that during the Construction Phase of TIF Projects, contracts equaling 35% of the dollar amount of total project costs less the cost of land must go to local, small or disadvantaged companies.
  • The Office of Local Business Development will monitor compliance with and results of their Contracting Memorandums of Understanding required on subsidized projects.

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Strategic Initiative 10:
Participating in the Workforce Investment Council


The Department of Employment Services and other District agencies manage numerous local and federally funded employment programs. The Workforce Investment Council (WIC), established through a federal mandate, provides the mechanism to better coordinate the various programs and monitor their effectiveness. The result will be improved workforce development programs for District residents.

Goals and Objectives

Job creation is an essential element of the District's economic vitality, as evidenced by the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development's commitment to employ 1,000 residents in unsubsidized, private-sector jobs this year. As increased employment is critical to the city's economic development, employment initiatives should support and work in concert with economic development programs and priorities. The ultimate goal will be to improve employment opportunities for District residents through a revitalized workforce development system that maximizes utilization and coordination of employment services. To do this, the WIC will advise the Mayor on: 

  • the development, implementation and continuous improvement of an integrated and effective workforce development system; 
  • ways to enhance systems for accountability and measurement of employment system effectiveness;
  • increasing private sector participation and public input and support.

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the federal legislation that serves as the foundation of the WIC, is intended to streamline services, empower job seekers, provide universal access for employers and job seekers, increase accountability and allow jurisdictions increased flexibility in providing workforce development services.


The Office of the Deputy Mayor will work with the WIC to facilitate the activities of the Department of Employment Services and other agencies involved in workforce development. In addition to providing staffing to the WIC, the Deputy Mayor will serve on the Council itself.

Many of the strategies that will be employed are laid out in the statutory requirements of the federal legislation that provides for the WIC. First of these is the actual formation of the Workforce Investment-Council and Youth Council. The WIC consists of executive and legislative branches of District government as well as higher education, labor, and business leaders. In recognition of the roles various branches of the District government play in workforce development and the need to coordinate these services, the Council will include the directors of the Department of Employment Services, Department of Human Services, Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Superintendent of District.

Public Schools. A majority of the members will represent the business community. The Youth Council will advise the WIC on youth-oriented workforce development service delivery issues.

The WIC submits a Workforce Investment Act five-year strategic plan and WIA youth plan. These plans serve as a blueprint for the delivery of workforce development services in the District. In addition, each year the WIC will establish annual priorities within the context of the five-year plan.

The WIC will ensure public access to Council meetings and activities. In addition, the public has the opportunity to provide input on the workforce investment plan on an ongoing basis.

Action Items

Under the five-year plan, the following activities will occur each year:

  • Review and evaluation of all existing workforce development programs.
  • Development of an effective workforce investment organizational structure. This includes coordination of programs to reduce redundancy and ensure maximum utilization. In addition, accountability and measurement tools will be reviewed and developed.
  • Implementation of the WIC's Areas of Opportunity, specific goals to be identified and developed each year. This year, the identified priorities are: 
    • The WIC will develop and implement a plan of action to improve the regional planning efforts within the greater metropolitan region. Develop and implement a plan of action to improve labor market information and identify new performance indicators. 
    • Develop and implement a plan of action to foster community involvement, focusing primarily on improving effective communication -- getting information out to the community and receiving feedback from the community within a structure that includes three subgroups: Employers, Service Providers, and Families
  • Preparation of the annual report to the Mayor and Secretary of Labor.

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