As part of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Chief Administrative Officers (CAO) & Economic Development Directors Retreat, more than 60 city and county managers and economic officials from across the metropolitan Washington area gathered on Wednesday, December 2 to discuss the region’s competitiveness. Milton Peterson, principal and chairman of The Peterson Companies, welcomed attendees to National Harbor – a community developed by the company.
Dr. Terry Clower of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis opened the event by addressing how federal government cuts in regional procurement are impacting the economic landscape. To achieve economic resiliency, Clower said the region needs to diversify, including in global business. The majority of job growth comes from expanding existing businesses and not necessarily business relocation, he said.
In a panel discussion, Bob Buchanan of the 2030 Group shared the Roadmap for the Washington Region’s Economic Future, which outlines how to maximize the region’s economic potential, such as becoming less dependent on the federal government, addressing transportation issues, examining housing affordability, and growing business globally. The region lags behind other metropolitan regions that are competing in the global economy, Buchanan said.
Although cities and jurisdictions across metropolitan Washington may compete with each other for business, collaboration and public-private partnerships will position the regional economy for success in the future, said David Winstead representing the Urban Land Institute-Washington, during the panel discussion.
One way to improve the region’s economy and expand global business is through exports. Currently, exports only make up about six percent of the region’s gross domestic product – the 95th smallest among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, according to Marek Gootman of the Brookings Institution, during the closing speech.
To develop a strategy to boost exports in the region, COG is working on an application to the Brookings Institution's Global Cities Initiative. The Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase, is aimed at helping the leaders of metropolitan America strengthen their regional economies by becoming more competitive in the global marketplace.