Region Forward Blog

COG Board Explores Opportunities for Economic Advancement in Metropolitan Region

Apr 10, 2015

Elected leaders on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors took an in-depth look at the area’s growth industries at their April meeting as part of their focus on regional economic competitiveness.

The Board welcomed Mark Muro, policy director for the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, for a briefing on science and technology-based advanced industries in the region. According to Muro, metropolitan Washington is not seeing the output and job growth that it once was. As the economy is now driven by the digitization of everything, he expressed the importance of recommitting to innovation-particularly expanding the research and development, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industries. The advanced industry sector already provides more than 500,000 jobs in the region, but could experience a surge in growth through such initiatives as cultivating a STEM pipeline and supporting mixed-use, walkable, transit-oriented urban centers that attract young workers.

This is the time to take stock as a region, and you are all clearly doing that, said Muro.

Jim Dinegar, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, also talked with the board about emerging industries in the area. Dinegar discussed the region’s growth in cybersecurity, media and entertainment industries, and even hospitality; hotel brands headquartered in Washington control 35 percent of all hotel rooms in the world. As new opportunities emerge that will add new jobs and workers, such as an expansion of the shipping industry in Baltimore, Dinegar stressed the need for transportation and affordable housing solutions to match this growth.

The metropolitan Washington area is also home to a large concentration of more than 70 federal laboratories, from the Missile Defense Agency in Washington, D.C.to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Prince George’s County. Paul Zielinski, chair of the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, discussed innovative opportunities to link federal lab research with the marketplace and also increase dialogue with state and local governments. Following Zielinski’s presentation, the board approved a resolution to explore opportunities for potential collaboration between COG and the consortium to advance regional competitiveness efforts.

View the presentations by Muro, Dinegar, and Zielinski. The meeting was also covered by the Washington Business Journal, “Why the Impact of ‘Advanced Industries’ on Greater Washington Should be Bigger.”

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