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D.C. Policy Center Announces Major Initiative: “Competitiveness and Business Dynamics: A Study of the Changing Role of the District in the Washington Metropolitan Area”

July 08, 2019
  • D.C. Policy Center


CONTACT: Aimee Custis
Director of External Relations
(202) 223-2233 ext. 306

July 8, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The D.C. Policy Center announced today that it is embarking on a major research project on regional business patterns and overarching competitive dynamics in the Washington metropolitan area. The research, a set of five in-depth policy analyses culminating in a framework for policymakers, will (i) focus on the changing role of the District of Columbia in the region’s economic landscape, and (ii) build a framework for evaluating District policies in reference to regional business dynamics.

“The District has always been the center of employment in the region but, until recently, its unique strength was the presence of a large federal workforce. But now the federal activity is shrinking both in the District and the region. This shifting of economic activity from public to private sectors has made the District more vulnerable to competitive forces,” said Dr. Yesim Sayin Taylor, Executive Director of the D.C. Policy Center. She continued, “We want to understand what this shift means for the District. What does the District need to do to ensure its continued status as the primary economic engine of the region? We hope this in-depth analysis will help District leaders keep D.C. competitive within the region.”

The District is a small, open economy, at the center of a region made up of increasingly competitive jurisdictions. The city draws from the overall strength of the region, but finds itself constantly competing for jobs, workers, and residents. City policies, investments, and actions reverberate across the metro region, pushing or pulling businesses, workers, and residents in and out of D.C. in a constant ebb and flow.

Differences within the region — some rooted in history, some related to policy, and some related to economic circumstances — shape the flow of people and business within the region. Historically, these differences have often favored the District, but there is little guarantee these trends will continue in the future.

What does the District need to do to ensure its continued status as the primary economic engine of the region? The D.C. Policy Center will answer this question with in-depth research initiative into the business dynamics of the Washington metropolitan region. The initiative, the first of its kind, will be a deep dive into the District’s role in employment, workforce patterns, and corporate decision-making in the Washington, D.C. region.

Beginning in autumn 2019, the Policy Center will release a series of in-depth analyses:

  • Regional entrepreneurship landscape: Where businesses are born, die, survive, and thrive across the Washington metropolitan region.
  • Shifting trends in the city: What new business activity is replacing the loss in federal employment and what this means for different areas of the city.
  • Business mobility: When and why do firms move across the region and which jurisdictions are successful in attracting businesses from (a) other parts of the metropolitan area or from (b) outside of the metropolitan area.
  • Job and workforce flows: How labor moves in or migrates out of the city, and how labor and workforce patterns change among workers of different age groups, earning levels, and industries.

Based on all of these factors, how will the District continue to thrive? What risks could change the District’s status in the region? How could current policies or policies under consideration be improved to bolster the competitive position of the District?

This initiative – the centerpiece of the Policy Center’s work in 2019 — will culminate in a framework comprised of considerations that District officials can use to gauge if policies under consideration will support or hinder the District’s continued status as the region’s economic hub.

Charles (Sandy) Wilkes, Chairman of the D.C. Policy Center Board, in commenting on the competitiveness initiative stated, “While the District’s competitive positioning in the region is a subject of great interest to the Policy Center, the reality is that the region depends on a vibrant, dynamic District economy. Hopefully, this initiative will shed light on how best to achieve both.”

For more information or to receive updates on the D.C. Policy Center’s Competitiveness and Business Dynamics Initiative, please contact Aimee Custis at aimee@dcpolicycenter.org or (202) 223-2233.


About the D.C. Policy Center

Established in 2016, the D.C. Policy Center is a non-partisan, independent think tank focused on advancing policies for a vibrant and growing economy in the District of Columbia. The D.C. Policy Center is dedicated to providing objective, targeted, and high-quality data analyses to support a productive policy debate in the District of Columbia. Learn more at dcpolicycenter.org/about.



D.C. Policy Center

Established in 2016, the D.C. Policy Center is a non-partisan research and policy organization committed to advancing policies for a strong and vibrant economy in the District of Columbia. Through rigorous research and collaboration, the D.C. Policy Center develops and tests policy ideas, disseminates its findings, and engages in constructive dialogue and debate.

For more information, please see our About page.