The Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, a nonprofit that markets the city to businesses and developers, may cease operation on Oct. 1 because of a budget shortfall of $700,000, according to a letter obtained from D.C. Councilman Jack Evans (D-Ward 2).
The councilman wrote Mayor Vincent Gray on Sept.15 asking him to float the full $1.2 million the partnership is seeking for 2012, instead of the $500,000 that has been earmarked. Were the District to provide the additional money, Evans said the private sector would match the funds.
“My concern is that if this organization ends it programs this month, we will neither have the expertise in house to replace what we have lost, nor will we be able to afford to create this organization again when the time comes. And it will,” Evans wrote.
The partnership received $750,000 from the city in the 2011 fiscal year, but because of budget constraints the city had to reduce that amount, according to Jose Sousa, spokesman for Victor Hoskins, D.C. deputy mayor for planning and economic development.
“The commitment the city has put in for funding is $500,000, and that’s where we’re staying because that’s what we have the budget for,” Sousa said.
Sousa said that the group does “many great things, obviously,” and that the cuts were more a reflection of the city’s budget shortages than the organization’s performance.
Board members received e-mails Sept. 25 from the organization’s chief executive, Steve Moore, reminding them of their Sept. 27 board meeting, and added a note that said the “budget has always been something that the organization has had to pay close attention [to].”
The board meeting is from noon to 1:30 p.m. Moore and several board members did not return calls seeking comment.
Established by mayor Anthony Williams, the partnership works with the D.C. government to attract businesses to the city, promoting such projects as CityCenter DC. It frequently holds seminars on financing, tax preparation and licensing for small businesses. It also represents the city at the annual retail convention of the International Council of Shopping Centers.
The partnership also hosts an annual business plan competition that has benefitted local firms such as Skyline Innovations, a District-based solar company, and VerdeHouse, which secures unoccupied space for creative companies.
The news was reported earlier by the Washington Business Journal.