I asked several business executives, entrepreneurs, academics and technocrats — many of whom I have written about — to send their predictions for the Washington region’s economy in 2017.
For the most part, they are optimistic, insightful and surprising. Not surprising is that the notorious gridlock on the region’s roads — no, not the version on Capitol Hill — continues to be one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most nettlesome problems. Predictions ventured into sports, politics, food and entertainment, and national affairs. Here are the responses, edited for content and length:
Raul Fernandez, private investor and vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment:
●Mars colonization or a similar moonshot will emerge as a big regional industry.
●The scale of the war in cybersecurity will begin to approach the size of the war on terror.
●The U.S. government will undergo rapid change not seen since the Manhattan Project and the space race, spurring private-sector growth.
●Shame, blame and the Twitter pulpit are new catalysts for change, replacing traditional rules of engagement.
●New local technology and cyber rock stars will be created by a federal government embracing lightning-fast decision-making similar to that of the private sector.
●Former president Barack Obama will become a vocal cheerleader for entrepreneurship, something all lifelong public servants will discover.
●And by 2021, the Capitals and Wizards will host championship games at Verizon Center.
April Young, managing director at Hercules Capital, a publicly traded venture debt firm with offices in Georgetown:
●Cybersecurity and protection of data and trade secrets will continue to be huge in the Washington region. It will shift from its primary focus on financial vulnerability to political and policy.
●There will be big opportunities around who goes and who stays this year among lobbyists, think-tank leadership and association executives based on perceived areas of risk and influence.
Ralph Terkowitz, former chief technology officer of The Washington Post and a partner at ABS Capital Partners, a Washington/Baltimore-area growth equity firm. Terkowitz hosts “TerkTech” dinners at which local technocrats, business executives and policymakers share ideas:
●D.C. emerges as a major hub for cyberservices.
●At least one company run by former MicroStrategy executives has a major exit.
●Online education re-blooms, and D.C. continues to be a thought leader in the field.
Brad Dockser, co-founder and chief executive of Bethesda-based Green Generation Solutions, a global firm that helps buildings lower energy costs:
●Metro becomes the best transit system in the United States as the SafeTrack program concludes, local governments agree on a new governance structure and the last link to Washington Dulles International Airport is completed.
●High-end residential prices in Northwest Washington will increase as Republicans move in and Democrats stay.
●Every good restaurant in Washington will have kimchi.
●Every embassy in Washington will host an event at the Trump International Hotel.
Mei Xu, chief executive and co-founder of Rockville-based Chesapeake Bay Candle company:
●Northern Virginia and Maryland will see job growth from increased governmental defense spending and a cybersecurity focus.
●Lifestyle centers combining office, grocery, condos, art, performances, independent retail and restaurant businesses will continue to grow after decades of being squeezed by big retail chains.
●Traffic will continue to be a problem, and policymakers will feel the pressure to create public transportation solutions. Road congestion will push gentrification in Washington and its immediate suburbs. Rosslyn, Va., and Bethesda, Md., will see prices rise, while homeowners farther out in Virginia — Potomac, McLean — will see demand soften.
●Income discrepancy between the mostly African American population of D.C. and new “lifestyle centers” will challenge policymakers.
Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington, a D.C. investment firm:
●Implementation of President Trump’s major policy proposals slips into 2018.
●Economic growth for the Washington metropolitan area accelerates dramatically from the relatively low 1.3 percent for 2015 as billionaires descend upon the city and government spending grows.
●Washington real estate prices continue higher, construction expands and traffic worsens.
●Higher interest rates, a stronger dollar and a rebound in energy prices will limit meaningful acceleration in U.S. economic growth.
●Trump underestimates the disruptions caused by motorcades. Washington traffic gets worse, and gridlock remains the norm.
●Former Maryland men’s basketball coach Gary Williams and ESPN television host Tony Kornheiser announce their foray into the Washington restaurant business. Keep your eye on Chad’s in Northwest D.C.
Reena Aggarwal, Robert E. McDonough professor of finance at Georgetown University:
●A pickup in economic growth nationally will mean higher economic growth and more jobs for the Washington region.
●Washington-area firms will benefit greatly from increased private and governmental investment in cybersecurity.
●Investment in infrastructure could help the Washington region with long-term congestion and commuting.
Gabrielle Bosché, a consultant who advises companies on how to hire and sell to millennials:
●More industry underdogs will come on the scene with smarter social-media campaigns and witty marketing.
●The corner store makes a global splash with online shopping and Etsy-like accessibility.
●Millennial consumers will begin to make larger purchases.
Ramu Potarazu, chief executive of Binary Fountain, a company based in McLean, Va., that allows health-care providers to understand patients’ experiences:
●Cybersecurity companies will be the fastest-growing companies in the local area because of their proximity to the FBI, CIA and NSA.
●The Dow Jones industrial average will surpass 22,000.
●Trump’s approval ratings will surpass 50 percent.
●2017 is Bryce Harper’s last year in a Nationals uniform.