The District announced a “strategic digital alliance” with Microsoft this morning that will include technical training for city residents,
business resources for 10 local firms, and efforts to promote science, technology and math in schools.
The program aims to address some of the persistent hurdles to economic development in the District, where a disparity in access to and understanding of technology often exists between high-income and low-income residents.
Bridging that gap is particularly important as the city increases its outreach to the local technology community and attempts to sell itself as a viable place for entrepreneurs to launch new companies. Many of those firms will rely on the local workforce for employees.
The digital alliance, which the company said is of no cost to the District, will include the following:
— The D.C. Department of Employment Services will select residents to participate in a digital literacy course and receive training in Microsoft software.
— Ten local firms will be given access to Microsoft software and technical training, as well as sales and marketing support. The value of those services is estimated at $100,000.
— A series of two-day seminars for teachers focused on bringing more technology into the classroom will begin this spring.
— Microsoft will host events for District students, particularly girls and minorities, where they can participate in technology challenges and group projects.
The city has been actively recruiting the software giant to bring commercial offices and an innovation center to the east campus of St. Elizabeths hospital in Southeast. That development project, which the city envisions as a technology hub, is a priority for Mayor Vincent Gray.
But a company spokeswoman said Microsoft is not making any announcement regarding plans to open a campus in the District, at St. Elizabeths.
“Microsoft will continue to look for and entertain new ways to work together with the City for the betterment of the District, but they have nothing to announce on research or innovation campus plans at this time,” the company said.