Capital Buzz: Milken Institute looks to expand

The Milken Institute is expanding its Washington presence.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based free market think tank, founded by former Wall Street financier Michael Milken, recently established the Center for Financial Markets at its New York Avenue NW offices, and expects to make several hires to its 20-person D.C. staff over the coming months.

The goal is to be closer to the nation’s decision makers, especially since much of the nation’s financial engineering has moved to Washington following the recent recession.

“We’re in full recruitment mode,” said managing director Bradley Belt, 53, an investment banker and a Washington and Wall Street veteran who has been tapped to lead the Milken Institute’s expansion here.

Belt served in the Bush Administration as head of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. and earlier in his career was a senior counsel on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Milken Institute publishes white papers and original research reports, and regularly sponsors discussions and lectures designed to address public policy issues.

Belt last year teamed with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business to provide monthly financial issues briefings with congressional staffers. Last month’s subject was private equity.

He also hosts Milken Institute dinner roundtables at the Metropolitan Club, which bring local business, financial and policy leaders together.

Power couple

Longtime Washington businessman Brad Dockser phoned from Uruguay last month, where his company, Bethesda-based Green Generation Solutions, has a pilot project to assess the energy usage in five buildings in the nation’s capital of Montevideo.

St. Louis-based Talisen Technologies is Dockser’s partner on the project.

“We put smart meters in five buildings to measure energy consumption at five-minute intervals,” said Dockser, 49. “That allowed us to do data analysis on the building’s power consumption and to recommend changes.”

The meters are in Uruguay’s Legislative Palace, the city’s mayor’s office, the headquarters for the national utility and the Inter-American Development Bank, which has partnered with Green Generation to bring energy efficiency to Uruguay.

Dockser and his wife, Debbie, started Green Generation, which has 12 employees, in 2010.

Green Generation helps builders and companies use technology to lower their energy costs. “Everybody wants to save money, and the interest in energy efficiency has never been higher,” Dockser said.

The Buzz hears:

Bethesda native Todd Boehly, a member of The Landon School’s class of 1991, is going to own part of The Los Angeles Dodgers. Boehly is president of Guggenheim Partners, a financial services firm that last week won the auction for the Dodgers with a record offer for a sports team of $2.1 billion. Guggenheim has teamed with former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson and former Washington Nationals President Stan Kasten, among others. The purchase needs approval from Major League Baseball.

Modjeski and Masters, a bridge engineering firm responsible for the design and creation of many of the nation’s iconic bridges, is opening a 3,350-square-foot office at 955 L’Enfant Plaza.

The office will be led by Buck Ouyang and will concentrate on two of the firm’s big Washington contracts: a four-year project to inspect nearly 300 Washington area bridges as part of the National Bridge Inspection Standards Regulation, and the South Capitol Street bridge replacement project as part of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative.

Feastie, the District-based recipe search engine started by Valerie R. Coffman, reports that it now has 94,000 recipes in its search index. The Web site allows users to bookmark favorite recipes — and even add ingredients — from laptops, desktops and even mobile phones. Feastie is part of the first class at The Fort, the District-based small-business incubator.

D.C. Community Ventures, a local venture capital firm run by Karim Zia and Candler Young, invested $100,000 of the $2.4 million Series A round recently raised by LearnZillion, which is a development tool used inside the classrooms. The Web site features hundreds of brief video lessons from teachers around the country, and is used in more than 20 District and charter schools.

Factoid of the Week:

Burtonsville-based Bell Nursery, which supplies the flowers and plants for just about every Home Depot east of the Mississippi, will grow and ship 100 million pieces of the green stuff this spring, including pansies, perennials, orchids and roses. Sales are up 12 percent over last year at this time, thanks in part to an early spring.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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