Washington, DC Economic Partnership Restructures
Economic Development Marketing Group Cuts Costs and Regroups
Director, Research & Communications
October 7, 2011
Yesterday, the Board of Directors of the Washington, DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP) unanimously endorsed a restructured 2012 budget and redesigned its priorities as a first step in recreating the WDCEP’s role as a key contributor to business development in DC.
“The demands to support economic development in DC have never been greater,” says Steve Moore, President and CEO of the WDCEP. “We are looking to resolve the gap between the increased demand for business support and guidance and the current strains on the DC government’s ability to support our programs.”
WDCEP, an 11-year old non-profit, is best known for leading the District’s annual retail trade mission to the International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas. The WDCEP is the largest source of market and consumer data for business in DC, and also writes the Doing Business in DC publication, the city’s how-to handbook for new business.
“We need all of the resources we can muster to promote DC as a great place to do business,” says Victor Hoskins, Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development. “The WDCEP has a great role to play in attracting new stores and businesses here.”
“Our focus is retail attraction,” says Keith Sellars, Senior Vice President and eight year veteran at the WDCEP. “We keep the retailers informed on the projects and changes in DC. We make sure they get information on new opportunities and we introduce them to neighborhoods across the city that they may not be familiar with.”
“The City wants more programs and services from us than it can afford right now,” Moore says “We need a larger coalition of businesses and government people solving the city’s problems not a smaller one.”
“We are reinventing our approach to the funding of our organization,” continues Moore. “Everyone who works with the city knows that they are struggling to make ends meet. We cannot depend on the level of support from them that we enjoyed in the past.”
“We are making plans to do more with less,” says WDCEP board member Richard Lake, Managing Principal at Roadside Development, who has led a budget restructuring workgroup established last week. “We focused on how we can be more efficient in our efforts. This is an opportunity for the WDCEP to reenergize ourselves, to help ensure that every corner of our City is lifted by the efforts.”
“The Board meeting yesterday is just one step in a process during which our programs and priorities will be retooled and reinvented,” says Ed Rogers, Partner at Reed Smith and the WDCEP’s Board Co-Chair. “We took a hit when the city reduced its support but, if we are successful, a year from now we will be back at full strength.”
Assisting businesses, developers and investors to find opportunities in DC is an integral part of WDCEP’s mission. In the last 18 months, the WDCEP has assisted with the expansion or relocation efforts of over 25 organizations, including Tesla Motors, Association of American Medical Colleges, BUILD, and JMT Technology.
The WDCEP tracks the $79 billion development dynamic that is shaping the District of Columbia. The WDCEP’s Development Search tool allows online users to search over 1,200 development projects that have been either proposed, completed in the District since 2001, under construction.
Since 2001, the WDCEP has met with hundreds of retailers and developers from across the nation, bringing retailers such as Apple, Yes! Organics, CB2, Anthropologie, Harris Teeter, Target and Trader Joes. Additionally, in order to help national and local retailers and restaurants find space in DC, the WDCEP, in coordination with the DC GIS, created an online tool, the Retail Site Search, which allowed retailers to query more than 280 retail opportunities by size, neighborhood, timeframe and address. Annually WDCEP supports the delivery of over 150,000 square feet of retail space resulting in over $4 mm in new sales tax revenue each year.
“WDCEP supports businesses across DC’s many sectors and industries,” says Angela Franco, President of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and WDCEP Board member. “They are a great resource for Hispanic businesses trying to set up shop here.”
“There is a need for WDCEP to play a larger role East of the River,” says Butch Hopkins, WDCEP Board member and President and CEO of the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation. “We can begin by using the talent and resources here to launch our Business Improvement District in Anacostia in the next few months.”
Since its establishment, WDCEP has launched DC’s first retail site search tool, cataloged more than 1,300 development projects, released studies highlighting the city’s core and emerging economic sectors, led DC’s retail attraction efforts at ICSC and awarded more than $300,000 in venture capital funds to small businesses.
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It is the mission of the Washington, DC Economic Partnership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to promote business opportunities throughout the District of Columbia and to contribute to business retention and attraction activities