Mayor Bowser addresses regional business leaders through engaging conversation on important issues facing Washington DC

The Greater Washington Board of Trade’s Regional Policy Leadership Series (RPLS) brought Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser together with the region’s business community for an intimate in-person conversation in the heart of the Central Business District to discuss regional issues. Mayor Bowser’s discussion bridged regional transportation, public safety, regulation of new disruptive technologies, downtown revitalization, and what can be done to better the District’s business environment as the post-pandemic economy continues to evolve.  

The conversation was presented in sponsorship by Holland & Knight and was held at the Downtown DC office of the multinational law firm located on 17th Street NW. It set the perfect backdrop for the important conversation Mayor Bowser had with the discussion’s moderator Janene D. Jackson, Partner at Holland & Knight’s DC office.  

The event began with remarks from Nina Albert, DC’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, who addressed the audience on some of the key pillars to revitalization of the Central Business District. She also discussed the next steps in creating a continued high growth economy, promoting cultural experiences that make DC unique, and creating more affordable housing, ahead of Mayor Bowser’s discussion.  

Mayor Bowser didn’t waste time diving into issues vital to the region’s business community, including the future of Metro funding from the District (engaging on the WMATA budget deficit impacting regional transportation) and newly introduced crime legislation which takes major strides toward providing law enforcement with the tools that they need to combat the epidemic of crime facing the region (including major public safety concerns in the Central Business District). On the latter of which, she expressed concerns regarding the defunding of the DC Police force by the federal government that has impacted the District’s public safety, reducing the standing force by 300 officers.

Mayor Bowser’s discussion also covered technological investments that will better position the region’s workforce to contend with competitor cities nationally and internationally. Federal dollars to extend broadband and internet connectivity in the District have helped tremendously to expand and upgrade infrastructure.  She spoke specifically about the Internet Essentials Partnership Program and how this public-private partnership with internet service providers like Comcast has connected families and small businesses in underserved District communities to broadband internet. The mayor shared that “while everyone can connect to the internet, not everyone can afford to connect,” and it’s partnerships like these that elevate our region. 

Mayor Bowser briefly covered the effort to try and keep the region’s professional sports teams in the District, including her hopes of retaining the Wizards and Capitals, whose parent company, Monumental Sports, recently released plans of moving the teams to a new entertainment district in Northern Virginia’s Potomac Yard. The mayor has worked with DC Council to approve a $500 million arena refurbishment funding package.  

Conversation then turned to wooing the Commanders back to a new stadium in the District at the site of the old RFK Stadium in Northeast DC, a 10-year long campaign thus far with the federal government, which owns the site. Plans still involve building a new “NFL-sized” stadium at that location regardless of the Commanders’ plans, which would help the District hold larger concerts and outdoor events that currently cannot be held in DC due to the smaller size of some of its entertainment venues.  

Now in her third term in office, the most difficult term for any mayor, Mayor Bowser was asked how she sees her legacy, looking back through her tenure making her the second longest-serving mayor in DC’s history. With so much to be proud of it’s hard to choose any single accomplishment, she pointed to her ability to uplift communities in Ward 8 via affordable housing, through the building of a new hospital and creating meaningful jobs in DC’s most challenging ward from an economic and equity standpoint. 

This is the first RPLS event of 2024. We look forward to continuing to connect the business community to information directly from policymakers through our Regional Policy Leadership Series, ensuring that our members have the best up-to-date knowledge about how the region’s governments are planning for and reacting to a constantly changing environment.     

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor: Holland and Knight LLP, and our series supporting sponsors Comcast, First National Bank, Fox Rothschild LLP, G.S. Proctor & Associates, Inc., Giant Food LLC, MGM National Harbor, and McGuireWoods LLP, McGuireWoods Consulting, and Uber Technologies, Inc.