D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is on an economic mission to assure that the District continues to prosper and that every Washingtonian is included in that prosperity. She, along with Brian Kenner, deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development, has put her stamp and seal on a commitment outlined in the recently released DC Economic Strategies to make D.C. “an international leader for inclusive economic growth and resilience.”
Those who have already benefited from D.C.’s growth over the past 20 years, that is evident in every quadrant of the city, have greater faith that D.C. will continue on its prosperous and inclusive path. They have enjoyed the better employment opportunities and homeownership in gentrified neighborhoods with the new restaurants and boutique businesses those neighborhoods have attracted. Even the D.C. public schools are becoming more attractive to residents who desire the ability to send their children to a quality neighborhood school. For them, D.C. is on the move and the mayor’s plan will only make the District an even better place to live and work
D.C.’s prosperity is clear, as well, among those who feel they have been left out or excluded. Many residents are still waiting on the promise of affordable and quality housing, not uninhabitable units run by slum landlords that continue to be paid by the city despite the deplorable housing they provide. They are waiting for job opportunities with a living wage that won’t elude them simply because they have only a high school diploma or a GED. They want an opportunity to thrive in D.C. and raise their families despite their past involvement with the criminal justice system. And they desire great schools that are equitably resourced so that all students’ needs are met.
The biggest challenge Mayor Bowser will face is gaining inclusive optimism among all D.C. residents. Clearly she will have more convincing to do among some residents than others as she further defines her strategies and as she works to make them a reality for all.