Local business leaders congregated at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in northwest D.C. on Dec. 16 for the 2022 Annual Meeting & Chairman’s Inaugural Breakfast. Other than dining, guests caught up on latest developments from leaders of the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce, met the organization’s newest leader and learned more about District government contracting opportunities.
“This year, the D.C. Chamber demonstrated continued success as a vehicle for engagement, convenor of thought leadership and a leader of business advocacy in the region,” said Carolyn B. Rudd, the outgoing chair of the organization’s board of directors. “In 2022, the D.C. Chamber’s portfolio of work was driven by the four strategic pillars: strengthening member services, enhancing advocacy and leadership, expanding D.C. chamber programs and workforce connections, and improving marketing and communications.”
The chamber held the event as the District continues to recover from the adverse economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts say while growth has taken place in most of the city’s main commercial corridors, activity needs to be stimulated in such areas as downtown and in neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.
New Opportunities, New Chair
Kathy Hollinger serves as the president and CEO of the Greater Washington Partnership. Hollinger also delivered the keynote address.
“The D.C. area is a great place to own a business,” Hollinger said to the crowd of 300. “Forty-eight of Fortune 100 companies have their headquarters in this area. We have a strong university community and a vibrant transportation network. Our work must continue to build a diverse workforce and to have inclusive growth. We are committed to that vision to make this the most competitive region in the world. But this is a work in progress and we must all work together to make this happen.”
Chamber leaders announced the new members of the board, with Tonya Vidal Kinlow as the new chair. Kinlow, a resident of Ward 8, works as the vice president for community engagement, advocacy and government affairs for Children’s National in Northwest. Kinlow said she looks forward to leading the board.
“I am looking to be bold as the board chair,” Kinlow, a resident of Ward 8, said. “We are looking to change the world.”
Kinlow said she and the board will be passionate about representing the interests of businesses, especially small firms, in the city.
“You have warriors working for you every day,” she said. “We are those working hard for you. We are not just working for businesses in downtown but in all eight wards. And I will use my experience in public policy to address chamber concerns.”
The Green Book
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser used the opportunity to address the audience about the work of the chamber and how it impacts the District and the latest edition of the Green Book, an annual publication detailing government contracting opportunities mainly for small businesses.
“I am so happy to talk to people in a room filled with business people,” the mayor said. “These businesses hire D.C. residents.”
Bowser said the District government “is a $20 billion entity and we buy a lot.” She said the Green Book lets everyone know a year in advance what contracting opportunities are available for businesses. The mayor said a goal of spending a billion dollars with local and small businesses was set last year and obtained. However, she said $1.1 billion District government spending with small and local businesses has become the goal of 2023 “and we will reach it.”