WASHINGTON, April 27, 2015 – The Construction Alliance, a newly formed public/private partnership, recently hosted an event at the RISE Demonstration Center on the campus of the former St. Elizabeth’s hospital, filling the center with a broad cross section of local minority, immigrant and mainstream prime contractors, banks and economic development agencies to usher in a long awaited era of cooperative economic development.
The honored guest was Mayor Muriel Bowser, who introduced her newly minted team of economic development professionals. These include deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development Bryan Kenner; deputy mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity Courtney Snowden; DC Department of Small and Local Business director Ana Harvey; Jackie Reyes of the Office of Latino Affairs; and additional members of Washington’s new economic development team.
The mayor charged Kenner to lead a new economic development cluster of agencies, including DCRA, DDOT, DGS and DOE, noting that for the first time the economic development cluster will include the departments of transportation and the environment.
Bowser asked for patience in announcing her new hire for the Department of General Services, which is responsible for coordinating the majority of the District’s capital projects including public school improvements. But she did introduce chief of staff Katrina Owen, facilities manager Spencer Davis and portfolio manager Forrest Hayes.
The mayor emphasized that she is focused on building the best team in the first 100 days of her administration.
“This is a fresh start in government,” she said, “and all of our processes are transparent and everyone has an opportunity to competec while making sure that we are working with our small business to be involved with that prosperity.”
Of major interest to the small and minority business in attendance was the mayor’s promise to change the mission of the Department of Small and Local Business Development. “The mission is too narrow, and just doesn’t fit right. Historically the chief function was to give you a certificate that said you’re disadvantaged. We want to stay focused on building capacity, access to capital and bonding,” said the mayor.
“I just moved a budget that includes $6 billion of capital development over the next six years,” she continued. “I’m not a pie-in-the-sky politician. I want to be held accountable and find new ways to include more people in the economic progress. Here’s is my team and I encourage you to work them. Work them hard, work them to the bone!”
The estimated crowd of over 200 enthusiastic representatives from the banking, construction and development industries was very pleased to hear the new administration’s message of openness, transparency and inclusion and the spirit of access to key administration agency heads and decision makers who seemed eager to deliver the new mayor’s vision of inclusion.
For his part, alliance chairman Stanley Jackson of the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation touted the near term potential of the 180-acre development ready site with the added benefit of zero displacement in his introductory remarks.
“We want to demonstrate that we have the skill set, capacity, knowledge and ability to achieve any objective that the city has before us,” he said. “We are no longer competing with each other and separating each other. We are one community that is working for the betterment of improving the entire community.
“The east end of our city,” he continued, “has not seen the type of equitable development that we see downtown. There is no development site in the city that has 180 acres of potential development that doesn’t displace one person.
“We are talking about making strategic and intentional development. I just want to say how proud I am to be standing with so many committed to make this city the best city in the world. Our alliance is for real; we are committed to make this transformation work. We are making a statement on how economic inclusion works,” he said.
The Construction Alliance is a coalition that includes the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation, the DC Hispanic Contractors Association and CHOICE, a program of the National Building Trades. The goal of the alliance is to partner with local developers, prime contractors and District government to execute projects that maximize the utilization of small and minority contractors, build their capacity to compete and stimulate workforce development opportunities for District residents.
Major corporate sponsors of the alliance include GCS SIGAL, the LEED-certified Green developer of the RISE Demonstration Center, represented by Michael Sigal; Flaherty & Collins Properties, a nationally ranked developer with over 15,000 units under management; and The Circle Group.