Leave a comment

“The basic premise of our organization is the District’s economy needs to grow significantly faster in order to create the number and kinds of jobs we’ll need over the next generation. Faster growth is required to increase the incomes of District residents, and we need it to produce the amount of tax revenue we’ll need to do the things the District says it wants to do in areas like affordable housing, homelessness and Medicaid. The research, programs, and initiatives we undertake are short, medium, and long term efforts to facilitate faster economic growth and the job creation that comes with it.” — Dave Oberting, Executive Director

agenda

Our current priorities are:

Economic Growth DC

  1. Regulatory Reform – Reducing the cost and increasing the ease of doing business in the District of Columbia are two of Economic Growth DC’s primary goals. Both the cost and the ease of doing business are products primarily of the regulatory process. Reducing the complexity of our regulatory system and reducing the cost of compliance would provide an immediate boost to economic growth. We will take advantage of every opportunity to move towards a simpler, smarter regulatory architecture.
  2. Regulatory Review Act – Having a better understanding of what individual regulations cost the economy in terms of lost economic activity and slower job growth is the foundation of a smarter regulatory system. The Regulatory Review Act would require the Chief Financial Officer to conduct an economic analysis on any proposed regulation over a certain value that would calculate the cost that particular regulation would impose on the private economy. It would also allow for a retrospective review and amendment process for older regulations. We would like to get this legislation introduced early in 2015.
  3. Tax Reform — A Tax Revision Commission organized by Mayor Vincent Gray and led by former Mayor Anthony Williams conducted a comprehensive review of the District’s tax framework over the past 18 months. They recommended a number of changes to the tax code that were subsequently adopted into legislation championed by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. The most important of these changes lowered income tax rates on moderate to middle income DC residents. We believe this should be the beginning of the tax revision process, not the end. Our basic tax philosophy is we should incentivize work by lowering the tax on it. We will advocate in the coming year for more progress on our tax code.
  4. District of Columbia National Disaster Insurance Protection Act – If passed, this federal legislation would empower the District to compete with off-shore jurisdictions to keep insurance company catastrophe reserves in the U.S. by providing tax incentives for such funds to be maintained in the District of Columbia. This legislation would open the door to the creation of thousands of high-paying jobs in the region and billions of dollars in new economic activity.
  5. Labor Law Changes — The District’s labor laws contain perverse incentives that encourage District businesses to relocate to the suburbs upon reaching a certain size and a certain number of employees. We’d like to work with the Council to reform our labor law system to make it more competitive with Virginia and other parts of the country. These reforms will be especially important as the technology start-ups the District has invested so much in begin to mature and start hiring serious numbers of people. These changes can be made at very little cost to the District and without sacrificing important employee protections.
  6. Improving Access to Super Fast Internet – Google has said it will provide fiber optic speed internet access to any jurisdiction that deregulates access to fiber. Making the appropriate changes is likely to jumpstart the installation and adoption of fiber optic speed internet access. Higher speed internet access increases employee productivity. Increased productivity is a prerequisite for faster growth.
  7. Fostering Micro-Manufacturing — The District has historically been locked out of the manufacturing industry due to high real estate costs and lack of space. There is a new industry taking shape that would allow the District to become a specialty manufacturing center in its own right. Micro-manufacturing, using 3D printers, is the fastest growing form of manufacturing in the country. They are largely small businesses who’ve used this amazing technology to make a wide variety of products. We’d like to propose legislation that would clear out some of the regulatory and zoning barriers that would enable this industry to take root and prosper in the District. 3D printer technicians do not need a college degree and the jobs generally pay $15-20 per hour. We should be moving quickly to establish a legal and a streamlined regulatory framework for fostering the growth of this industry.
  8. Science and Engineering Campus – The District intends to become the premier technology center on the east coast. If you look at the other tech hotbeds around the country — Silicon Valley, Boston, and Austin — the one thing they all have in common is a massive research institution like Stanford, MIT, and the University of Texas.  These institutions produce not just the technology graduates that start companies, but the technology itself that can be commercialized.  The City of New York and Cornell University have partnered to build a massive technology campus on Roosevelt Island in NYC. Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it easily the best tool NY will have for accelerating future economic growth. A smaller version of idea has been proposed for St. Elizabeth’s, but the District should think bigger. It should involve a name-brand research partner like Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon or Georgia Tech.
  9. Crowdfunding — This technology provides important access to capital for District start-ups and small businesses. The District has proposed rules to govern crowdsourcing transactions. We’ll work to see these rules implemented as quickly as possible.
  10. Attract Venture Capital Firms — Increasing the amount of venture capital funding that flows into the District is key to our long-term growth. The District is actively fostering early stage technology firms with investments in things like 1776. Our startup community is moving towards a critical mass of invest-able companies, but we won’t attract significantly more venture funding if the people who make those investments are not physically in the District. We’ll be proposing an incentive package to entice the largest venture firms like Kleiner Perkins, Andresssen Horiwitz, Sequoia and Graylock to set up shop in the District proper.
  11. Anacostia River — We support the efforts of the United for a Healthy Anacostia River Coalition — Lack of development on the banks of the Anacostia is the most visible effect of the deadly chemicals that have been poured into the Anacostia for decades. We consider the cleanup of the Anacostia to be an important economic initiative. We will help the Coalition wherever we can.
  12. Small Business Survey – We are in the process of constructing a survey that we plan to ask small business owners to complete to highlight current economic conditions in the District for small businesses and the  public policy challenges they face. We have begun the process of identifying the small business owners we’d like to target and we’ve begun formulating the questionnaire. We would like to have this survey in the field by the middle of 2015.
  13. Advisory Board — We made provisions in our bylaws for an Advisory Board in addition to our board of directors. We have begun the process of recruiting candidates from various facets of DC political and economic life.
  14. Fundraising — Ongoing.

Economic Growth DC Foundation

  1. Code4Life — Is an after-school program created in partnership with technology giant Accenture that teaches DCPS  and charter school middle-school students basic computer programming. The program is designed to put District students on a pathway to a high-wage occupation that does not necessarily require a college degree. The program launched successfully at KIPP NE Academy this fall. We are currently planning our expansion to three additional schools in February.
  2. Re-entry Job Placement Program — The Foundation is working on the development and implementation of an ex-offender job placement program similar to one that was originally developed in Newark, NJ through a partnership between Mayor Corey Boooker and the Manhattan Institute. The Newark program has experienced real success with its rapid attachment to work job placement model designed to get returning citizens into the workforce quickly. They have experienced a much higher employment and retention rate than typical ex-offender efforts, as well as lower rates of recidivism. At his point, it looks like the program will require substantial private funding.
  3. Decriminalization – The District decriminalized marijuana in 2014. That action should be the beginning of a sustained campaign to reduce the over-criminalization of DC’s civil society. We will advocate for the formation of a commission which will be responsible for making recommendations for the reduction of certain felonies to misdemeanors, and misdemeanors to civil infractions. Over-criminalization is not unique to the District. At the federal level, there are over 3,000 criminal offenses, and over 300,000 regulations that carry criminal penalties. This is a phenomenon at both the local and national levels that should be rolled back.   
  4. Modern Entrepreneurship Program – This program is essentially a venture capital fund for minority micro-entrepreneurs. The twist is experienced business professionals associated with two U.S. AID contractors with considerable development experience overseas will embed with these entrepreneurs for up to a year. The intensive management assistance is designed to lower the risk profile of these investments. This program also requires private funding.
  5. Leadership Development Training Class — In partnership with the DC Leadership Development Council, the Foundation seeks to launch a high-school level leadership development training class for high-potential students at DCPS high schools. This class is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2014. The Foundation will administer and underwrite the program. The DC Leadership Devel0pment Council will assemble the curriculum and and provide the instructors.
  6. Job Placement Coordinator Training – The District provides the bulk of its job training and youth development programs through non-profit social service providers. Each of those providers has at least one person that is responsible for placing their program’s graduates into jobs upon completion of that training. The Foundation uses its private sector job placement expertise to offer free instruction to any of these placement coordinators interested in professional development. This training helps placement coordinators become more effective at what they do, thereby increasing the number of people who are placed into jobs at the conclusion of their training.
  7. Research – We are currently seeking a Director of Education Policy. This individual will be responsible for organizing and analyzing education policy research that is of interest to EGDCF, as well as conducting original research focused on blended learning and improving educational outcomes. If you would be interested in being considered, please forward your resume to resumes@egdcfoundation.org.
  8. Apprenticeships – The Foundation is working with several partners, including organized labor, to implement a much broader use of apprenticeships. Germany is an excellent example of how to use apprenticeships aggressively to provide higher levels of skill. Apprenticeships are not just for the construction trades. There are dozens of professions ripe for the use of apprenticeships.
  9. Office of Military Preparedness — The military is an excellent career opportunity for District youth. We will be encouraging DCPS to open an Office of Military Preparedness to coordinate the efforts of the various junior ROTC programs, as well as with the various military recruiting commands. The military should be given greater access to students and guidance counselors.
  10. DCPS Debate Tournament — In partnership with the DC Urban Debate League, the Foundation will organize underwrite a formal a debate tournament for DCPS and charter school students in September of 2014. We feel that organized debate teaches several skills critical to career success including critical thinking, problem solving, effective communications, and collaboration as part of a team.
  11. Workforce Development Repository – This is a research project the foundation is interested in. The idea is to catalog all of the job training programs that are in operation around the country and rank them in terms of the success they have placing graduates into high value added jobs.
  12. Industry Focus Groups – Job training is not nearly as employer driven as it should be in the District. Industry focus groups would provide a framework for employers in similar industries to come together and be more pro-active about the design and execution of job training programs. The Foundation is interested in coordinating several focus groups to facilitate the design and delivery of better training.
  13. Fundraising — All of these efforts require financial support from interested individuals and institutions. EGDCF is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation. All contributions are fully tax-deductible as charitable gift. If you’d like to support the foundation or any specific program, CLICK HERE.

For more information on the Foundation’s activities, visit its website at http://egdcfoundation.org.

 

 

Leave a comment

Stacked Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 

Economic Growth DC Statement on the Death of the Honorable Marion Barry

 

Washington, DC

November 24, 2014

 

On behalf of Economic Growth DC, I offer our heartfelt condolences to the Marion Barry family and his thousands of loyal friends and supporters upon the death of our four-time mayor and longtime councilmember.

 

From his early involvement in the civil rights movement as Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to his tireless efforts to improve the lives of all Washingtonians over the course of almost two generations, the District has never had a more devoted servant.

 

#####

 

Economic Growth DC is a political and economic advocacy organization that serves as a catalyst for increasing the rate of growth of the District’s economy.

 

Contact Information:

Dave Oberting

Economic Growth DC

202.670.4403 direct

dave.oberting@economicgrowthdc.org

1130 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 350

Washington, DC 20036

 

ENDS

Leave a comment

There is a link below to a new op-ed that was published this morning in the Washington Business Journal. It was co-written by our executive director Dave Oberting and Dr. Stephen Fuller of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.

It details some of the difficulties facing the District’s economy, but it is also clear that there are many opportunities to implement pro-growth policies over the next several years that would benefit every DC resident.

Viewpoint: Economic Advice for the New Mayor

Leave a comment

To no one’s surprise, poverty is not spread evenly throughout the District of Columbia. Only six percent of the District’s white residents live in poverty. For Hispanics, the rate is 23% and for African-American District residents it’s a shocking 39%. But it gets worse: for African-American single mothers, the poverty rate is 47%. Think about that one. One in two single African-American mothers residing in the District lives in poverty.

Then consider the extraordinarily high cost-of-living in DC and realize that the federal poverty line for a family of three is $19,790. Forty-seven percent of single African-American mothers earn less than $20,000 per year. Our estimate is than an income of more like $50,000 to $60,000 is required to have some semblance of economic security.

 

For a sense of the scope of the problem, consider that the DC Fiscal Policy Institute defines low-income in the District as anyone earning 150% of the federal poverty level or less ($29,685 for a family of three). According to FPI, there are 133,000 people in the District living in households that are headed by a person earning under that threshold.

Our position for some time has been that the District doesn’t have a poverty problem per se. It has an unemployment and underemployment problem that could probably be classified as a crisis. According to Dr. Harry Holzer of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, of the 88,773 people over the age of 16 living in poverty in DC, only 1.9% had a full-time job throughout the year, while 64% did not work at all. On the flip side of that statistic, the poverty rate for District residents that do work full-time is basically zero.

The elusive solution to poverty is actually as clear as day: work.

Our public discourse tends to trend towards who’s to blame for this sorry state of affairs, but the causes are many and varied and ultimately irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how do you fix it?

Our answer comes in three parts that are not a mystery:

1) The District’s economy contracted by 0.5% in each of the last two years. Should that trend continue, you have a prescription for disaster. The number one task of the new administration, and the thing that most requires their attention is implementing a policy framework that permits the private sector to grow faster. This can and should be fixed in the short-term. Improvements in tax policy, regulatory policy, more flexible labor laws and even the facilitation of the birth of new industries are within reach. Aggressive moves in each area are required to jump-start the creation of jobs at all skill levels.

 

2) Too many District residents lack the skills required to acquire and maintain a full-time, middle-skill, middle-wage job. This is a medium-term project, but the best tool we have for transmitting the skills that District residents need to command a middle-class job is our long neglected workforce development system. It is frankly the best anti-poverty tool we have.

Good strides have been made under the Gray administration and there are many smart, talented people working hard to improve our workforce system, but we need to move farther, faster. Instead of complaining that the workforce is unskilled, the corporate sector needs to drive the design of, supervise, facilitate, and to some degree, fund an improved job training system. As the pace of  job creation increases in the short-term it places a a higher premium on residents with competitive skills.

 

3) As a longer-term proposition, we need a more radical overhaul of our K-12 education system. Dating back to Mayor Fenty’s takeover of the schools and the tenure of Michelle Rhee, the energy required for dramatic improvement has been there, but he results have not. According to Ken Archer of Greater Greater Washington, if you take a closer look at the city’s test scores, you see, “stagnant or downward trajectory for black, Hispanic, low-income, English language learner, and special education students in the last five years.”

This is a recipe for the perpetuation of inter-generational poverty. Until the city grapples with this reality and commits to more drastic action, the long-term trajectory of poverty will not change. By the time a faster growing economy is producing more jobs,and an improved workforce system is producing higher-skilled District residents, we must graduate 100% of our high school students and they must be ready for post-secondary training/education and a productive career. That’s how you end poverty in the District.

 

Leave a comment

Let’s look at three presumably unrelated pieces of information: a) consumer spending represented 71% of the U.S. economy in 2013; b) stock investors are concerned about corporate revenue growth on the grounds that American companies have wrung as much cost-cutting as they can out of their operations — revenue growth is all that’s left; and c) almost half of all public school students in the U.S. now receive free or reduced price lunch, qualifying them as low income.

What binds these three items together? Automation, globalization, and the relentless pursuit of both efficiency and profit are in the process of cannibalizing the world’s largest consumer market. And it’s happening faster than we thought.

The Wall Street Journal article references that most American multi-national companies now derive at least a third of their revenue from overseas. What the article fails to note is that means half to two-thirds of a typical American multi-national’s sales come from the the U.S. domestic market. Revenue growth is soft because Americans have seen their purchasing power deteriorate.

What will American companies do when we reach the point at which a majority of American families cannot afford to purchase the new cars, phones and washing machines American companies are so good at making? Without major course correction, we’re bound to find out and it’s not likely to be pretty.

For those on the political spectrum who consider this to be someone else’s problem, read the third article below about what this means for American power. The article’s author, Dr. George Friedman from Stratfor, says people smarter than he will be responsible for constructing the solution. The solutions are obvious, it’s the implementation that’s hard:

Faster economic growth is the foundation upon which all solutions rest. It is the only way we create the right number and kinds of jobs we need to work our way out of this. Faster growth doesn’t solve every problem, but without it we solve none of them.

Secondly, a significant percentage of the population does not have the skill set that’s required to earn a solidly middle-class living. Job training is a core government function. We need to overhaul the way we do it. The primary problem with our current job training system is it’s not driven by employers. They loudly complain that American workers don’t have the skills they need, which is part of why they want to increase immigration. Well, do something about it.

Thirdly, if anyone is happy with the current state of our education system, they’re either in denial or delusional. Whatever we’re doing, it’s not enough. More radical changes are required to get us to the results we must have.

And fourth, American companies — on their own — without coercion — are going to have to decide that a larger chunk of their cash is going to go towards employee compensation. Call it enlightened self-interest.

Revenue Softness Worries Stock Investors

Study: Almost Half of Public School Students Are Now Low Income

The Crisis of the Middle-Class and American Power

 

Leave a comment

Economic Growth DC is pleased to release the results of its second and final poll of the District’s 2014 mayoral election.

 

To download your copy of the full poll results, click here:

Economic Growth DC CapitalDecision2014 Poll II Full Release

 

Below is the full press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Monday, October 20, 2014

 

Press Contact: Dave Oberting – 202.670.4403 – dave.oberting@economicgrowthdc.org

If you are not a member of the press, please write to us at comments@economicgrowthdc.org

 

New Economic Growth DC CapitalDecision2014 Poll II

Bowser Lead Now 12%

Only 7% Still Undecided

 

Poll Must Be Sourced: Economic Growth DC CapitalDecision2014 Poll II

 

WASHINGTON (October 20, 2014) – In the race for mayor of the District of Columbia, Democrat Muriel Bowser leads Independent David Catania by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 45%-33%. Independent Carol Schwartz trails at 12%. Seven percent (7%) of likely voters remain undecided.

Economic Growth DC’s executive director, Dave Oberting, said, “Bowser has extended her lead to 12% from 8% in our first poll which was published October 1st. The first poll showed 27% undecided. This poll shows 7% undecided. It seems that Democrats who may have been on the fence have come home to Councilmember Bowser. Any momentum that Catania might have had seems to have been blunted.”

The poll of 800 likely November 2014 voters was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research from October 16th to October 19th. It was conducted using live calls to both landlines and cell phones. The poll used a combination of respondent’s actual vote history and their stated intent. The margin of error is +/- 3.5%.

Bowser and Catania are both popular among the electorate with nearly identical favorability ratings. Voters appear to like the direction of the city, giving it a 57%-30% right track/wrong track score. It is possible that a late breaking event could impact the race as one in five voters is a weak Bowser supporter, but time is running short.

On individual issues like improving the economy and reducing crime and drugs, Bowser’s lead is somewhat narrower, ranging from 3 to 8 points. In response to question important to Economic Growth DC, the electorate thinks Catania would be more successful at working with the business community and creating jobs by a margin of 38%-31%

#####

Economic Growth DC is a non-profit political and economic advocacy organization focused on the District and its economy. For more information, visit: http://economicgrowthdc.org. Follow them on Twitter @GrowthDC.

 

Contact Information:

Dave Oberting

Executive Director

Economic Growth DC

202.670.4403 phone

dave.oberting@economicgrowthdc.org

1130 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 350

Washington, DC 20036

 

ENDS

 

Greenberg Quinlan Poll Invoice

Check for Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc

Contact Information for Methodology or Legal Questions for Economic Growth DC CapitalDecision2014 Poll II

 

Leave a comment

This report from George Mason’s Center for Regional Analysis makes clear that sequestration has had a significant impact on the region’s economy. The loss of federal government and contractor jobs has created headwinds for the region’s economy. The question is why? The answer lies in the enormous dependency the District has on government expenditures. They make up 35% of the District’s economy. The average of the 50 states is 11.5%, so the District is three times more dependent on government spending than the average state.

This makes it especially sensitive to cutbacks in federal spending. Due to the growth of mandatory spending programs, the discretionary portions of the federal budget are likely to remain under pressure for the next generation. That means diversifying away from government spending isn’t just a laudable goal, it’s an economic necessity.

Economic Impact of Sequestration Budget Cuts

Leave a comment

Like a lot of organizations, Economic Growth DC is interested in getting specific and detailed answers to questions we care about. In our case, that means economic issues. We have attached a draft of the candidate questionnaire we’d like to have the mayoral candidates to fill out. We’re asking our readers and followers to take a look at our questionnaire and give us your feedback, including questions you may have in areas of interest that we might not have covered.

If you are interested in the answers to our questions, download a copy as a .pdf and send it to your favorite candidate. We feel our questionnaire is filled with serious questions that require serious and thoughtful answers. We will not use the responses to endorse any one candidate, but we will use the results to issue a letter grade on how pro-growth a particular candidate is.

In difficult economic times, we cannot let our future mayor go an entire campaign without seriously laying out their economic platform. Help us by telling the campaigns they should answer the questions.

If you would like to take a swipe at the answers, submit them to questionnaire@economicgrowthdc.org. We’ll rank your answers too.

2014 Mayoral Election Questionnaire