Second Annual Future of Greater Washington

October 27, 2017

Second Annual Future of Greater Washington Creates a Launchpad for Cross-Sector Collaboration

On October 26, over 120 leaders from the region's business, non-profit, and public communities came together at Gallup for LGW's Second Annual Future of Greater Washington, a Leadership Exchange presented by Accenture, and sponsored by MWCOG. The event was presented in conjunction with Leadership: Arlington, Baltimore, Fairfax, Howard, Loudoun, Montgomery, and Prince George’s. The return of the acclaimed leadership summit signifies the positive impact of collective leadership and initiatives dedicated to advancing the Greater Washington region.

The event welcomed some of the top thinkers from the 2030 Group, Accenture, Enterprise Community Partners, Federal City Council, Greater Washington Partnership, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and United Way of the National Capital Area, to present on the integral initiatives dedicated to regional growth and development happening in Greater Washington. Featured speakers provided a discussion on several topics pertinent to regional collaboration, including the link between housing affordability and Metro, and upcoming initiatives to improve economic growth and attract and retain talent in the region.

After a warm welcome from LGW President and CEO Doug Duncan (’15) and Mimi Yeh (’14) Managing Director for Accenture Federal Services, attendees were eager to hear the latest insights from presenters.

Bob Buchanan Principal, Buchanan Partners & President, 2030 Group led the first wave of morning presentations with The Roadmap: Where Are We Now? With the new HQ2 Amazon bid at the forefront of everyone's mind, Bob took a closer look at the impact of the Amazon bid and this significant business opportunity.  

It is more critical than ever that we harness the pride we have in our regional workforce, acknowledging the talent within the region and the diversity. Whether or not Greater Washington secures the HQ2 bid, there will be other opportunities for new business in the region, beyond Amazon.

Bob also highlighted the need for local leaders to be proactive in correcting the problems in our infrastructure. We must stay involved in regional leadership and not depend on the federal government.

“I see a lot of good things that The Roadmap has started. We’ve been blessed with a close, proximity to federal government. We can attract the talent, but we need to retain it; we need to tackle our infrastructure needs, we need to address housing affordability.”-Bob Buchanan

Looking ahead, the 2030 Group aims to address issues that affect not only business but the quality of life for residents in the region, including Metro reform, housing affordability, and export planning to build the economy.

Up next was Bob Sweeney (’04) Managing Director, Global Cities Initiative with a conversation around regional export planning. Putting it simply, we as a region need to pivot.

Regional growth is treading water, and this should be alarming. Greater Washington ranks 93 among the top 100 metro areas in term of export output, and we can do better than this.  In contrast to Bob Buchanan's presentation, Sweeney sent a warning not to chase Amazon but instead focus on existing businesses. By doing this, Greater Washington will become more globally diversified as a region. Slowly, leaders are working to realign the region's economy with that of a globally funded and thriving ecosystem. DC’s participation in the Global Cities Initiative - a joint project of Brookings and JP Morgan Chase- will help us reposition, grow existing companies, concentrate resources on small and medium-sized enterprises, and connect education resources to business needs.

To stay competitive globally, trade outside of the region is crucial. This how the Greater Washington Export Center evolved. Their mission is to accelerate business growth for companies in Greater Washington by providing one on one trade counseling, market research, global trade missions, peer group networking and connections to 320 + world trade centers in 89 countries. There is no other entity in the region focused on this initiative.

Moving away from the topic of exports, David Bowers (’09) Vice President & Mid-Atlantic Market Leader Enterprise Community Partners provided an update on Housing Affordability and its cross-sector impact.  David’s involvement with the Housing Leaders Group of Greater Washington has been instrumental in the regional collaboration conversation, encouraging leaders to think about housing affordability as a people first issue, which affects our neighbors, employees, and coworkers. The organization has also published a Guidebook for Housing Affordability, and previously partnered with LGW for an 18-month Thought Leadership Series on Housing.

Housing affordability will allow the region to:  

  • Preserve employment opportunities for local individuals and families
  • Retain college graduates from regional institutions
  • Attract a quality workforce who can afford to stay in the DC metro area, to build their lives, raise families and contribute to the economy

Ideally, the Housing Leaders Group needs additional partners and employers to tell their stories and drive solutions toward housing affordability. David and his team are working to include more than 60 cross-sector leaders in the conversation to establish clear targets, develop strategies and implement practices on zoning and land use.

Perhaps the most anticipated presentation of the day was an update on DC Metro provided by Emeka Moneme (’12) Deputy Executive Director, Federal City Council. Many of the issues surrounding regional collaboration seem to circle back to Metro issues. In a candid and solutions based discussion, Emeka laid out the value of Metro and the opportunity for improvement.

Metro is essential in making sure our region and our city work. It connects major transportation hubs, creates walkable urban places, enhances both bicycling and walking as commuting options and has been the region’s best example of inter-jurisdictional cooperation. Metro delivers 1 million trips on an overage weekday. However, DC Metro is a system in crisis, and the time to act is now.

Metro’s challenges are rooted in governance, operations, and funding. Ridership has declined, service is inconsistent, and there are financial challenges, regarding maintenance, operations, and employee benefits.

In June, the 2030 Group, Federal City Council and Greater Washington Board of Trade launched a region-wide coalition to execute a genuinely successful overhaul of Metro with support from the government. Moving forward the coalition will need input from businesses, communities, and government, and the financial backing to ensure long-term success and reliability.

After a data-driven morning of recommendations and updates, the summit transitioned to a panel discussion on the region’s future. Panelists included Russ Ramsey and Jason Miller of the Greater Washington Partnership and the discussion was moderated by Mimi Yeh.

The conversation covered the evolution of the Greater Washington Partnership dating back to 2013 and the region’s quest for an Olympic bid. Looking back at Greater Washington’s positioning, it became clear to Russ Ramsey that leaders needed to invest in the reputation of the region to ensure that we are in the best position to secure profitable businesses.

This month the Greater Washington Partnership unveiled an initiative to develop regional mobility solutions.  Scale matters and having a plan matters to establish solutions.

The Future of Greater Washington’s formal agenda ended with a Community Call to Action led by United Way - National Capital Area’s President & CEO Rosie Allen-Herring (’02).

Rosie encouraged attendees to think about how we need to get to work and make our region stronger.

“This is critical. In the next 3-5 years, something about your life and the way you live in this region will change. Do you want it to happen to you, or because of you? Everyone here is credible, and now we can listen to each other and hear what these solutions are. Let's not get to the point where we as a region continue to lose rather than win; we want to get it right.” -Rosie Allen Herring

Some of the takeaways from the breakout session included:

  • Develop a Metro marketing campaign that emphasizes how public transportation fits into all aspects of your life, not merely commuting.
  • Promote telecommuting, so there are fewer people on the roads and conduct surveys to see who is telecommuting.
  • Change the lens of looking at the Metro problem by bringing in the business community.
  • Look at multiple housing solutions, and use Baltimore and land trusts as an example.
  • Utilize workforce development by creating models and ways to prepare students to be a part of the economy including vocational training, hospitality, and education.
  • Bring together the best thinking of multiple groups, looking at the Alleghany Council in Pennsylvania as an example.
  • Coordinate different messages on mobility, social, and transportation.
  • Address issues that deal with workforce development and workforce placement and look at human capital issues.
  • Eliminate height restriction in DC to improve density and housing affordability.
  • Construct an eastern gateway to help with affordable housing, the RFK development, and Prince George’s county.
  • Look at the Arlington development model and use it as an example to help Prince George’s county with Metro development.
  • Use millennials as a constituency and include them in the conversation for new ideas.
  • Utilize high-speed rail as a genuine regional connector from Baltimore to Richmond
  • Continue to make sure we change the language around housing affordability.
  • Solve for 2030, not 2010

Overall members said that the event was an excellent opportunity to learn in detail and meet leaders working on regional efforts that are not well-known.

“Addressing the region’s challenges and opportunities take more than great ideas. The most prominent issues are multi-layered. Talent, economy, housing, education, healthcare, transportation are all tied together. The call to action needs to rise above county and state lines where all groups participate, and invest, even if the value/benefits may be different for each stakeholder.” Mimi Yeh (’14)

The Future of Greater Washington will continue to convene thought leaders and innovators in the region with the mission of establishing a lasting positive change in Greater Washington. Over time and with the support of leaders, government officials and our community, the region will continue to transition towards economic growth and a better quality of life for all residents.

Thank you to our gracious event host Gallup. Here are a few shots from the event courtesy of Lenzy Ruffin Photography.

View the complete event here

Second Annual Future of Greater Washington