Washington, D.C. (January 12, 2017) – The Greater Washington Metro Export Plan, released at the January meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors, calls for increasing the region’s participation in the global economy, including a recommendation to create a regionally supported trade services organization and launch a Greater Washington Export Council. COG, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area developed the plan to help diversify the region’s economy and pivot from a reliance on the federal government.
The Export Plan is a result of the Greater Washington region’s participation in the Global Cities Initiative (GCI), a joint project of The Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase designed to help metropolitan leaders grow their regional economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness.
“The regional collaboration on this important issue impacting Greater Washington has been inspiring,” said Chuck Bean, COG Executive Director. “Led by COG, the Board of Trade, and the Consortium, the political, institutional, and business leadership in Greater Washington has found consensus on a strategy to grow our economy.”
According to the Export Plan, the region’s economy has historically been buffered from significant economic downturns due to the presence of the federal government. However, federal cuts and budget reductions have increased over the past several years, leaving regional leaders to look for other ways to grow the economy.
As the plan states, the majority of economic growth is occurring and will continue to occur outside of the U.S. Exports currently account for just over 6 percent of the region’s GDP, according to a November 2015 report authored by Brookings.
Following an in-depth assessment of the region’s export economy that involved surveying and interviewing small and medium-sized enterprises in the region about their export activity, a Steering Committee made up of more than 40 area leaders put forward goals for advancing international trade, such as:
- Strengthen global engagement of mid-sized firms, specifically in the biotech, cyber-security, and information technology sectors.
- Promote and market global advantages to grow exports and attract investment.
- Streamline and enhance the existing network of export resources, services, and opportunities.
- Drive more exports from small and mid-sized firms.
At the COG Board meeting, Bob Sweeney, Managing Director for the Greater Washington Global Cities Initiative, noted actions already being taken to achieve the goals outlined in the Export Plan. First, area stakeholders hope to move forward with a feasibility and design study for a new trade services entity that would serve as a “one-stop shop concierge service” for companies looking for help with exporting.
GCI Steering Committee (COG)
The Steering Committee is also overseeing the formation of a Greater Washington Export Council that will mentor and provide networking opportunities for new exporters. It will also counsel businesses on the exporting process and provide trade education. In addition, the Steering Committee will direct the creation of a Trade Services Asset Index, a listing and description of all public and private sector trade services available to businesses in the region.
According to the plan, COG, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area will continue to champion and coordinate these actions and others that result from the Export Plan over the next several years.
“Based on our experience with dozens of U.S. and international metro areas through the Global Cities Initiative, we are optimistic about both the tactics and collaboration that emerged from the Greater Washington Export Plan process,” said Marek Gootman, Fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Rather than propose high-level strategies and general objectives, the stakeholders made some difficult choices about where to focus efforts for maximum impact, with specific actions by which progress can be measured.”
COG, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area kicked off their participation in the Global Cities Initiative in Greater Washington in February 2016. The effort was championed throughout the year by the 2016 Board Chairmen of the three regional organizations, Roger Berliner (COG), Daniel Waetjen (Board of Trade), and Dr. Steven Knapp (Consortium).
The Global Cities Initiative is a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase designed to help metropolitan leaders advance and grow their regional economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness. GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decisions, fostering practice and policy innovations, and facilitating a peer-learning network through replication and dissemination. For more information, see https://www.brookings.edu/project/global-cities-initiative-a-joint-project-of-brookings-and-jpmorgan-chase/ or www.jpmorganchase.com/globalcities.