We're Open for Business

DC Chamber of Commerce | 12/29/2011, 4:42 p.m.

I recall a time when as soon as the clock struck five, the District's population shrunk strikingly, as tens of thousands of workers set their cars on autopilot back to Maryland or Virginia. I sometimes thought I had a better chance of seeing tumbleweeds than people. But times have changed, and I can say with great confidence that "DC is open for business."

With the hard work of our board, our staff, our members, our local government and the entire business community, the DC Chamber of Commerce plays an integral role in the vibrancy of our city. We are proud to work with you to ensure D.C. remains a viable place to do business.

We continue to create programming opportunities that benefit the business community. Networking events connect local employers and employees. Our policy forums set strategic roadmaps for current and future success in the District. Our annual awards gala celebrates the inspirational individuals and organizations that make D.C. a unique and special place to do business. Our Speed Networking and Business Networking Receptions have brought members together with countless new customers and contacts. And the list goes on and on.

We are also your advocate in the halls of District government, and we're not shy about standing up for the best interests of the business community. There are a few items I am particularly proud of in 2011:

We fought to ensure the FY12 budget included full funding of the Small Business Program, while also opposing tax increases.

We collaborated with Mayor Gray on the rollout of the One City * One Hire initiative, aimed at employing DC residents.

We addressed workforce development issues in a detailed white paper.

We implemented an overhaul of the regulatory review process.

The hard work and dedication of the DC Chamber of Commerce in 2011 only makes 2012 that much more important. We have a wonderful economic foundation from which to build upon, and we have incredible momentum. But one trend that is not changing is the challenges of a struggling economy.

Those without jobs cannot contribute to the local economy, and they often times struggle to make ends meet. We need to fill these jobs with D.C. residents so the dollars stay within our economic border. With more than 700,000 jobs available on any given day in the District, we must ensure we prepare our workforce to compete. Through a first-rate education system, adult training opportunities and initiatives like One City * One Hire, we look forward to working with you to ensure DC residents get - and keep - these jobs in our city.

Ethics has and will continue to be of vital importance. Key decision-makers must be honest and transparent. Simply put, that is good business and we need to hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards. The ethics debate has been particularly public and contentious over the past few months, but we have made progress on that front (read about it in my blog), and are now ready to focus on the real work of the upcoming year.