Mayor Vincent Gray unveils economic development plan for D.C.

November 14, 2012

Mayor Vincent C. Gray unveiled a plan Wednesday that he said would create 100,000 jobs and generate $1 billion in revenue for the District over five years through initiatives that include developing McMillan Reservoir into a medical hub and attracting more foreign investors and tourists.

The ambitious plan was created through a partnership with the business schools at George Washington, Georgetown, Howard and American universities, which had a combined 16 MBA students working on the project with the schools’ deans.

“We are absolutely, thoroughly committed to these initiatives,” Gray said, adding the plan will be part of his fiscal 2014 budget.

Gray (D) was questioned Wednesday about whether he could see the plan through as he approaches the two-year mark of a four-year term clouded by a federal investigation into his 2010 mayoral campaign. Three campaign associates have pleaded guilty to various charges in the probe.

“Anybody who focuses on a term of office is not visionary,” Gray said. “Whether I’m here or not, we have carved out a vision.”


D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. (Marvin Joseph/WASHINGTON POST)

Gray said his plan builds on what is already happening in a city where the population is growing at a rapid pace and where an average of 1,000 jobs are being added to the workforce each month.

He announced the initiatives during his biweekly news conference, which was held at Kennedy Recreation Center in the Shaw neighborhood, across from CityMarket at O, a $260 million mixed-use development under construction.

CityMarket is being funded partly through a federal immigration program that provides visas to foreigners if they invest in American businesses.

Gray took a week-long trip to China in June to build relationships that could generate such investments. The city opened its first foreign trade office, in Shanghai, in July.

According to the 116-page plan, the District should tap China for its potential investors and tourists. In 2011, there was a 93 percent increase in the number of Chinese tourists over the previous year, according to the report.

Other initiatives include creating a culinary incubator to support entrepreneurial chefs, caterers and others in the city’s growing food industry; relaxing building height restrictions; and turning the McMillan Reservoir sand-filtration site into a medical nerve center. The site’s 25 acres are in the shadow of a cluster of medical facilities, including Washington Hospital Center and Children’s National Medical Center.

Developer Trammell Crow and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development will hold a forum to get input from the community on the plan for the site.

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