Washington, D.C. - A coalition representing local government, business, and higher education leaders in Greater Washington has been chosen to participate in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. Launched in 2012, the Global Cities Initiative helps public and private sector leaders grow their metropolitan economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness.
The effort is being coordinated by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.
Greater Washington, composed of the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia was selected by Brookings after a rigorous and competitive application process. The region will now begin work on creating a data-driven market assessment, which will evaluate the region’s current export economy, support systems, and opportunities for growth. The region will then integrate those findings into a comprehensive metropolitan export plan aligning goals, strategies, tactics, and operational commitments.
"Leaders across the Greater Washington region have committed to take tangible action on what our research shows is key to a strong, diverse economy,” said Marek Gootman, Fellow and Director of Strategic Partnerships and Global Initiatives at the Brookings Institution. “Through this planning process, Greater Washington will determine how to better help local firms and the region take advantage of opportunities in the global marketplace. Greater Washington joins a select group of metro areas working to strengthen their international connections and competitiveness through the Global Cities Initiative, where executing regional trade strategies is yielding measurable results.”
Exports are a critical component of a regional economic development strategy, bringing in outside capital and helping local businesses expand to create more jobs; research shows mid-size firms that export generate notably higher revenues, employment, and wages than counterparts that do not. However, while the vast majority of economic and consumer growth is occurring outside the U.S., exports remain an underutilized economic development tool. A recent Brookings analysis found that Greater Washington’s export intensity ranks 98th among the 100 largest U.S. metros, and its export growth lags behind peers.
Greater Washington has historically had a strong economy that benefits from global talent and investment, but the region’s growth has largely been fueled by the federal government. Today, federal cutbacks are greatly affecting the region. According to the Council of Governments’ State of the Region: Economic Competitiveness report, federal procurement and employment are declining. The annual job growth rate in the region is one of the lowest in the country. According to research by Brookings, Greater Washington ranked 93rd among the top 100 largest U.S. metro areas and 249th among the 300 largest global metro areas in terms of its annual gross regional product growth between 2010 and 2014.
Despite these challenges, the region has considerable assets. George Mason University reports that nearly half of the population over 25 years old has a bachelor’s degree or higher. The region is home to fifteen Fortune 500 companies, 23 colleges and universities, and, according to Brookings, is one of the nation’s top ranking regions for its share of jobs in research and technology-intensive advanced industries. A coordinated export strategy built on these assets will help Greater Washington to pivot from its reputation as a “government town,” to a region that is recognized and respected in the global marketplace.
“Metropolitan Washington is great at a lot of things—we have an educated workforce, innovative industries, and world-class academic institutions—not to mention local and state jurisdictions committed to advancing economic development,” said Roger Berliner, Chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board of Directors. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Brookings and JPMorgan Chase on the market assessment, building on our assets while improving our weaknesses.”
“As the world of exporting changes, so too do the opportunities for Greater Washington,” said Daniel Waetjen, Chairman of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. “By clearly defining our regional products and services that meet market interest elsewhere, this Global Cities Initiative will help us expand the reach and business of Greater Washington. The Board of Trade is proud to partner with the Council of Governments and the Consortium of Universities in developing a robust export strategy.”
“The Consortium of Universities looks forward to collaborating with the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments in creating new and expanded opportunities in export markets,” said Dr. Steven Knapp, Chairman of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. “The Consortium expects to play a central role in ensuring that the region’s need for educated talent is met, and in creating the new knowledge on which future markets will be based.”
The Greater Washington team is continually enhancing its list of companies in the region that export or have the potential to grow their international activity; if your company exports or is interested in exporting, please contact Bob Sweeney, firstname.lastname@example.org, to discuss your current activities and find out how you can get involved.