The D.C. Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its annual meeting and breakfast for leading business owners and decision-makers across the District.
During the Dec. 12 meeting at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, chamber members such as Vincent B. Orange, Erica Wadlington and others presented attendees with key points reflecting their focus of resurgence within the city, as well as improvements made over the year.
A common theme echoed throughout members’ remarks was ensuring future economic development includes all District residents from ranging financial pools and backgrounds.
D.C. Policy Center Executive Director Yesim Taylor answered compelling questions regarding business ownership and the District’s low rates of businesses owned by women and people of color. When chamber Vice President Margaret Singleton questioned what could be done to create more opportunities, Taylor said that, given the demographics of the city, there should be a greater presence of female and minority business owners and entrepreneurs.
“We see a lower rate of startups, which means it’s harder for someone to take their business plan and turn it into an actual business in the District of Columbia,” Taylor said. “It could be because it’s harder to get a license or a multitude of steps of actually creating a business. It could be because taxes could be high. There are all kinds of reasons.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser also shared her sentiments on the District’s future planning, and her excitement for the city’s resurgence.
“I think that what we are celebrating today was the wilderness of our leadership then, to do something big that will move our city along,” Bowser said. “Certainly controversial, not necessarily proven, but what we have now, and when we look back, is not only real champions, but we have a portion of our city that is thriving and that will allow us to make other critical investments in our infrastructure, in our human services and in public education.”
Madan and Southwest Airlines community outreach representative Karen Price-Ward presented selected political figures with the Hometown Hero Award for their outstanding services in the District. Honorees included former Mayor Anthony Williams, former Council Chairman Linda Cropp, former Council members Orange, Harold Brazil, Sharon Ambrose, Kevin Chavous and Sandra Allen and current Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans.
Lawyer Roderic Woodson, who has attended several of the chamber’s annual meetings, said that in addition to the interesting speeches and presentations, the real action lies within the room.
“We have folks that are engaged in the city, and so one thing that you gain out of this, in my view, is that you gain the knowledge of who people are and what they do,” Woodson said. “Washington is one of the few places in the country where people have less money but great power. And the power comes from government, being able to run government programs, and to being involved in those circles. That’s not true in other cities.”