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The Capital Business 2010 Year in Review

Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush.
Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush. (Jeffrey MacMillan)

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After spending months raking in money from Wall Street clients and other interested parties during the bill's debate and passage, the same firms are now benefiting from the rule-making phase of the process, when the details of the 2,300-page bill will be hammered out by federal regulatory agencies.

The work isn't likely to dry up anytime soon. The number of corporations, associations and other interest that have hired lobbyists to influence the implementation of the act dwarfs the total that had retained firms to influence Congress before its passage. Attorneys say the process should continue for several more years.

"The center of the financial world has moved from Wall Street to 15th and Pennsylvania -- the Treasury Department. That's not going to be lost on clients," Arnold & Porter's Richard M. Alexander told Capital Business.

Coupon companies looked like a good deal

The daily coupon craze didn't exactly begin in 2010, but major online purveyors saw an explosion in subscribers and attention from investors this year. Perhaps in an economy in which many people struggled with money, a business model built on savings just caught on.

Washington's LivingSocial grew from 300,000 users in December 2009 to about 12 million today. The largest bargain broker, Chicago-based Groupon, counted 1.7 million users last December. It now has more than 44 million.

Both companies spent the year expanding their business around the globe while smaller players sought to emulate their success by tailoring Web sites to niche audiences, such as parents or college students.

The trend should persist into next year and beyond, or at least some major Internet companies seem to think so. Amazon.com pumped $175 million into LivingSocial earlier this month while Groupon reportedly rebuffed a multibillion-dollar buyout from Google. Perhaps Groupon felt the deal was just too good.

Convention Center hotel finally approved

When it is completed in the spring of 2014, the District's convention center hotel project will have spanned 19 years, three mayoral administrations and nearly a half-dozen lawsuits. With construction now underway -- see for yourself on Ninth Street NW across from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center -- the District hopes to boost its standing as a major international player for conventions. It will be only the third Marriott Marquis in the country.

Plans for contracting cuts reverberated

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates generated cries of distress from contractors and area officials earlier this year when he unveiled plans to significantly slice contractor funding, vowing to cut spending on contractors providing support by 10 percent annually for the next three years.


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