WDCEP History

WDCEP is a public nonprofit corporation that facilitates economic development in the District of Columbia.  As a public/private partnership between the District Government and the business community, WDCEP functions much like a county economic development agency in accomplishing its mission statement.

Created as a public/private partnership, WDCEP was officially established in April 2000 by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the District Government and six other strategic partners – Pepco, the DC Chamber of Commerce, Verizon, the DC Building Industry Association (DCBIA), Fannie Mae and GEICO Direct.  Initially funded through a grant from the District Government, it was agreed that WDCEP would be housed as a division of the DC Chamber of Commerce until it achieved certification as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The MOU established some basic parameters for WDCEP including:

  • The initial partners – the District’s Office of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), DC Chamber of Commerce, DC Building Industry Association, PEPCO, Verizon, Fannie Mae, and GEICO Direct – would serve as WDCEP’s steering committee and financial contributors.
  • The committee and WDCEP staff would seek the legal incorporation of the organization as a nonprofit agency with a board of directors, bylaws, mission statement, and other rules and regulations.  The certification of WDCEP by the IRS as a nonprofit organization was achieved on November 19, 2001.
  • The District Government would provide grants to WDCEP for a minimum of two years as a part of creating sustained funding for the organization.  DC businesses would also provide financial support as sponsors.
  • WDCEP would work with the staff of DMPED to assist in its economic development functions and continue to staff the existing DC Business Connections and DC Retail Initiative projects that have been successfully launched.
  • WDCEP would be housed as a division of the DC Chamber of Commerce until the nonprofit certification, and representatives from DMPED and the DC Chamber of Commerce would serve as co-chairs of the WDCEP’s board of directors.

Nonprofit Status

WDCEP achieved nonprofit status in November 2001 when the IRS certified it as a 501(c)(3) organization. WDCEP has also been incorporated as a business in the District of Columbia.

Through its incorporation as a nonprofit organization, WDCEP will fulfill three key purposes that not only qualify it for such a designation, but that also reinforce the above-stated marketing and economic development activities.  Through its activities, WDCEP will:

  1. Lessen the burden of the local government
  2. Educate and inform the public of business and retail programs and activities
  3. Work to eliminate community blight and deterioration

WDCEP certification as a nonprofit organization also accomplished several key objectives:

  1. It “branded” WDCEP as an independent and autonomous agency that is a confidential point of contact for economic development in the District
  2. It allowed WDCEP to separate from the DC Chamber of Commerce and establish its own financial systems – bank accounts, payroll, employee benefits, etc. – as well as its own board of directors
  3. The nonprofit status allows the organization to accept tax-deductible donations from private businesses and corporations, enhancing its fundraising capabilities
  4. It established an “organizational presence” and “legitimization” for WDCEP in the region when dealing with other comparable economic development agencies in Virginia and Maryland

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