The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area (CUWMA) are moving ahead with new efforts to grow the region’s economy, such as a new partnership to develop a regional export strategy and a task force to expand cooperative work between the region’s academic community and the public sector.
At the February COG Board of Directors meeting, George Washington University President Steven Knapp, who also serves as CUWMA chair, highlighted the economic contributions of the consortium’s 14 member universities in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, through research, workforce development, commercialization of technology, and international students and investors.
“The economic impact of consortium universities is estimated at $15 billion annually for the region,” Knapp said.
Additionally, with more than 160,000 students – two-thirds of which come from outside the metropolitan Washington area – and 60,000 employees, representing the largest private employer in the District of Columbia, consortium universities play a significant economic role in the region, Knapp said.
According to CUWMA, six universities have incubators/innovation centers, with one center focused exclusively on foreign start-ups. CUWMA and COG leaders have both identified greater commercialization of research from area universities as a major regional priority.
CUWMA President & CEO John Cavanaugh discussed examples of recent work by the consortium, including a partnership with COG and the Greater Washington Board of Trade to strengthen the regional economy through global exports. During the meeting, COG Board Chairman Roger Berliner announced that the group’s application to the Global Cities Initiative – a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase– was accepted.
Through the Global Cities Initiative, the region will begin developing an export strategy to take greater advantage of opportunities in the global marketplace.
“We will be the 29th metropolitan area in the country to join the Global Cities Initiative,” said Cavanaugh. “Without the collaboration of all three organizations this wouldn’t be possible.”
COG Board members expressed a strong interest in continuing to work closely with their university counterparts. Following the presentation, the COG Board agreed to establish a task force to foster greater collaboration between local universities and governments as part of its continued focus on enhancing the region’s economic competitiveness.