These are the best of times for the District of Columbia. The city’s coffers are flush with cash and the revenue just keeps on growing. This is a far cry from what residents witnessed and experienced 30 years ago when the city was broke and finances were being mismanaged resulting in a financial management authority being employed to oversee the city’s finances that was forced on the District by Congress. After four consecutive years of balanced budgets, the D.C. Control Board was dismantled and the District has not looked back ever since.
It appears one lesson learned from that experience was the need to diversify the city’s economy. The once renowned identity the city held as the place to come to get that “good government job” is still relevant but the local economy has clearly been transformed.
Today, according to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Brian Kenner, Deputy Mayor of the Office of Planning and Economic Development, the creative economy has become the booming employment sector for District residents and the magnet for the 1,000 new residents that reportedly are relocating to the District each month. Jobs in retail, technology and innovation and tourism are growing exponentially, and it appears that growth will continue with a company like Apple coming downtown, and the strong pitch the city is making to Amazon and others.
Just last month when Bowser launched her 202Creates initiative, it was reported that the District is home to 2,400 arts-related businesses, ranks first in creative businesses per capita, and that the creative economy generates more than 120,000 jobs, with 1,800 creative jobs added in just the last year.
The creative job market represents an exciting opportunity for District residents who have been left out, overlooked and are underrepresented in the District’s new growth and development. Mayor Bowser must remain dogged with creative economy employers to ensure they fulfill her commitment that all Washingtonians will benefit.