MONDAY MORNING

The Developer and the Fed Chief, Together in Southeast

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, left, onstage with John Hope Bryant of Operation Hope, speaks at the Anacostia Economic Summit.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, left, onstage with John Hope Bryant of Operation Hope, speaks at the Anacostia Economic Summit. (By David Scull -- Bloomberg News)
Monday, May 8, 2006

William C. Smith and Co. has been one of the most active developers east of the Anacostia River, developing thousands of units of housing in the past decade. It started the work when most builders were steering well clear of the District's poorest neighborhoods.

Last week, the company got a shout-out from the nation's economist in chief. At the Anacostia Economic Summit, held Wednesday at the Town Hall Education, Arts and Recreation Campus in Southeast Washington, which William C. Smith and Co. built, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke noted the work the company has done to revitalize neighborhoods east of the river.

There was more to it than that. Bernanke had taken a driving tour of Southeast several days earlier with the company's chief executive, W. Christopher Smith Jr., to learn more about the economic issues facing the area.

Smith said he and Bernanke drove around for half a day, as the developer pointed out projects in the community, describing the challenges involved in getting them built and the impact they have had. "He asked very insightful questions," Smith said.

It wasn't the first time Smith had shown a Federal Reserve boss around Southeast Washington; he did the same with Alan Greenspan in 1993, when redevelopment efforts were still in their infancy.

-- Neil Irwin


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