The DC Economic Growth Action Fund, more commonly known as Economic Growth DC, was founded in March of 2013. The basic premise for the organization is simple: The District has ambitious priorities. It wants to create hundreds of million of dollars of affordable housing. It wants to expand Medicaid and end homelessness. To accomplish these goals and generate the amount of tax revenue required, the District’s economy must grow faster.
We rolled out the organization for real in about July of this year. We thought it would be a good idea to provide the public with some more information about us and our strategy. For those of you who are unfamiliar, EGDC is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. It was designed to participate primarily in policy advocacy at the District government level. There is more information in the “About Us” section on our website, but in a nutshell, we strive to help policymakers make DC a better, easier, and less expensive place to do business.
Since July, we have been largely in an introductory mode. As a new organization, we’ve felt our top priority has been to lay down a foundation of credibility and transmit the message that we intend to be a serious voice in the District’s economic and political affairs. We have used this time to formulate an agenda for solving some of the important problems the District and its economy face and we look forward to working on some of its biggest challenges. Primarily, we have been introducing ourselves to many councilmembers and staff, as well as members of the Gray administration.
While we are not technically lobbyists (as a 501(c)(4), we are only required to register as lobbyists if we are lobbying for something that will directly benefit EGDC), we are trying to influence policy. We’ve always thought that the definition of a good lobbyist is someone who can provide legislators and other policymakers with accurate, timely and useful information and insights that allow them to make informed decisions about policy. We hope that the perception is we’ve begun to fill that role in the right way. The get to know you period with policymakers will probably last for at least a year or two, but we are confident we’re on the right track.
We will accomplish ours goals by working in a number of policy areas. They are described below:
- Technology — DC has a dynamic and growing startup/technology ecosystem. However, many startups and tech companies are already experiencing a talent shortage. We will play a role in filling the technology talent pipeline on both a short and long term basis. In the short term, we will use our resources and experience in the executive search field to help technology organizations attract and retain high-skill technology workers. We will also consult with local technology firms and provide them with guidance on how to improve their own recruiting operations. As a longer-term investment, EGDC’s charitable arm — the Economic Growth DC Foundation, in partnership with a leading global technology firm, will execute a longitudinal program to teach DCPS middle and high school students basic computer programming in an after school setting.
- Education — EGDC will be active in education reform, education policy, and education advocacy. All of our charitable programming and policy work will be focused on improving student achievement more dramatically and more quickly.
- Workforce Development — We believe a more effective, employer driven workforce development system is the single best tool the District has for imparting the skills DC residents need to move from low-skill to mid-skill to high-skill work. We have been working with both policymakers and workforce development advocates to help make the job training system more dynamic and effective.
- Healthcare — EGDC intends to play a role in making the DC healthcare system more competitive, accessible, and less costly. At some point in the near future, we plan to hire a health policy expert/advocate to help guide this work.
- Tax & Regulatory Policy — It is our plan to hire a vice president of government relations who will focus on tax and regulatory matters, as well as making DC an easier and less costly place to do business.
- Electioneering — Under the law and IRS regulations, we are permitted to support or oppose candidates for local office. Per our business plan, we intend to hire a full-time Director of Campaigns who will be responsible for candidate recruitment in partnership with the DC Leadership Development Council and support of those candidates. We are permitted to engage in a range of political activities as long as they are not our primary activities. We are forbidden from coordinating with campaigns, but we are permitted and do intend to participate in elections in support of pro-growth candidates for local office.
- Fundraising — Of course all of these plans are contingent on EGDC’s ability to raise money. We are putting together a fundraising plan and will begin fundraising in earnest over the next few months. We will be 100% supported by donors who believe in our mission to increase the rate of growth of the District’s economy. You can donate now at http://economicgrowthdc.org.