On Thursday, March 30, regional leaders came together to discuss the status of the Roadmap for Greater Washington.
View the presentations that were featured, as well as photos, below:
Greater Washington has been recognized as one of the fittest and greenest cities in America. In 2016, Greater Washington was ranked #1 on the U.S. Census list of Most Educated Metro Areas and Bon Appetit named DC its 2016 Restaurant City of the Year. Nestle recently decided to move its new headquarters here, and US News & World Report ranked Greater Washington #4 on its list of best places to live. These are achievements to celebrate and are proof that this region is more than just the federal city.
Are we ready to come together as a region to champion this new regional identity? Are we taking the necessary steps as a region to project more than our image, but also develop our economy away from its historic dependence on federal spending?
The Roadmap for the Washington Region’s Economic Future revealed that we must address our transportation and housing affordability issues, rebrand the region, and increase the collaboration between the academic sector and business community in a way that ignites the entrepreneurial culture across the region if we are to solve our issues locally and compete globally.
As we move through 2017, how are we advancing on each of these fronts? How will the new administration’s policies and practices impact the region? Are we doing enough to attract, retain, and retrain our talented workforce?
To gain a better understanding of where we are as a region and what we need to do to move forward, please join us on March 30, 2017 from 8:30am- 11:30am at the Hay Adams.
“The high cost of living, horrendous traffic and high crime levels may cause millennials to have second thoughts about staying in the D.C. region,” according to a new report by American University’s Kogod School of Business. “Only 9 percent say they will definitely not leave in the next five years.”
Two-thirds of Washington’s 20- and 30-somethings said they would consider moving out of the area for the right job. Arlington residents were most likely to leave town, with 78 percent saying they weren’t particularly wedded to the area.
“A demographic tsunami is upon us,” said Stephen Fuller, an economist and professor of public policy at George Mason University. “There are already signs that millennials are moving out as fast as they’re moving in. They’ve come here to get their tickets punched, to learn the trade, to get some experience — and now that they have that, they’re not so keen on sticking around.”
For now, though, the Washington area continues its reign as the second-most desirable U.S. locale for millennials, behind San Francisco and ahead of Boston, New York and Denver. Researchers surveyed 504 adults on 33 factors, including job availability, salary levels, housing and child-care costs.
“We hear a lot about millennials as though they’re mythological creatures from another planet — a planet with beanbag chairs and foosball tables in every office,” said Dawn Leijon, executive-in-residence at the Kogod School of Business and the report’s lead researcher. “But they have the same working-stiff concerns that previous generations did: Are there enough jobs? Can they make enough money to pay the bills?”
And, she added, they’re increasingly finding it difficult — and expensive — to put down roots in the Washington region. Even with an average salary of $65,910 — a 39 percent premium on the national average of $48,320, only 12 percent of millennials said they felt they could afford to buy a house in the area, according to the second annual Kogod Greater Washington Millennial Index.
“The high cost of living makes it very, very difficult to save money towards retirement,” one survey respondent said. “Many people are living paycheck to paycheck.”
Traffic was another source of frustration. The Washington area has the second-worse commute, behind New York, according to Leijon. It turns out, for all of the talk of public transportation, ride-sharing and cycling, 60 percent of Washington’s millennials drive themselves to work each day. Many — 57 percent of those surveyed — said they could commute using Metro, but chose not to do so because it is unreliable and inefficient.
“Traffic is horrendous,” Leijon said, adding that 32 percent of survey respondents said congested roads were the worst part of living in the area. “About one-third of millennials said their commute is ‘killing’ them.”
The Washington region should work to retain its concentration of 20- and 30-somethings, Leijon said. By 2020, millennials will make up half of the U.S. workforce, making it especially important for the region to be able to attract — and keep — well-
In practice, many millennials said that means having employers who match their contributions to 401(k) plans and subsidize their health insurance. They also said they would like a paid, two-month sabbatical after five years of employment and the option to telecommute at least one day a week.
“Washington has traditionally been all about workaholics,” Fuller said. “But millennials don’t want that — they want work-life balance, and it is essential that companies pay attention.”
Regional group working on solution to DC’s image problem
Although the greater Washington region is one of the best places in the country for small businesses and entrepreneurs, many across the country — and around the world — tie their perceptions of the region to political gridlock and dysfunction.
The problem for advocates of the region is how to pitch the capital region to entrepreneurs.
“This is an opportunity and a moment in time when we desperately need to redefine ourselves — not just to our own communities, but to outside the country,” marketing expert Cary Hatch told What’s Working in Washington.
“We’re looking to elevate the profile and stature of the region to get people to consider this region in a different way,” she said. Hatch’s latest task is managing the Rebranding Greater Washington Taskforce.
Hatch said one of the aims of the rebranding project is to drive people to start businesses and families in the area.
“Greater Washington is often perceived to be a place of gridlock, partisanship and political dysfunction — an image that hindered the area’s strong bid to become host the 2024 Olympics and detracts from all that this region encompasses and offers,” said the CEO of MDB Communications.
“In reality, we are much more than just the federal city. Stretching from D.C. into parts of Maryland and Virginia, Greater Washington is a region … and a strong one at that,” Hatch said.
The Rebranding Greater Washington Taskforce’s aim is to create a regional brand that transforms the image of the region into one that is less government-centric and enhances the region’s reputation as a good place to start a company, build or expand a business, learn, and have a high-quality of life.
Regional leaders including the 2030 Group, Akridge, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and ULI Washington are the driving force behind the effort and have worked closely with international branding firm, Interbrand, and over 160 stakeholders to develop a new identity campaign.
Just last week, Nestlé announced it would be moving its headquarters from California to Greater Washington in large part due to the region’s highly educated and talented workforce.
For female entrepreneurs, D.C. is the best in the nation, according to Hatch.
“Most people don’t realize that there are more female executives in the greater Washington area than anywhere else in the country,” she said. “I think it’s a very diverse community, not just women. It’s people of color, it’s immigrants. Despite what you hear on the news, this is the location that welcomes talent. If you have talent to bring, if you have energy and if you have passion, this is the place where people come to make history.”
In 2016, the region was voted the fittest city in the U.S. and Bon Appetit named D.C. its 2016 restaurant city of the year.
The capital region is home to more of the fastest-growing companies in the nation than any other region. Greater Washington has it all, now we need to sell that image to all.