Still not back at your DC office? BIDs want you to see what you’re missing

Foot traffic and the share of office workers throughout the District is still hovering below 40% of pre-pandemic levels, slightly lower than the overall D.C. metro. The 11 Business Improvement Districts in D.C. have just launched an online initiative called Return to DC to get more people back.

“It is a far cry from where we were pre-pandemic. And perhaps we will never get back to 100%, but I think what we want to see is for that number to continue to grow and so that we can begin to see that foot traffic in town that we so desperately need,” said Gerren Price, acting president and CEO of the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District, the oldest and largest of the city’s BIDs.

The initiative is designed to appeal to workers’ memories of their pre-pandemic experiences of being at work in town, to reminisce about pre-pandemic Washington and to build excitement about what is to come.

Daytime D.C. may not be hustling and bustling like it was before the pandemic, but it is no longer a daytime ghost town. Return to DC is a one stop site that aggregates all that is going on, particularly for office workers who have returned.

“Part of what we are looking to do with this campaign is that it is a ‘return to D.C.’ and in a lot of ways a return to city life,” Price said. “We know many folks have been working through the pandemic at home. And we’re really reminding them of all of the great and amazing things that happen when you’re downtown.”

“You can see a number of different events, restaurants that are offering cool and fun specials for happy hours and for local workers. All of that is found (on the website).”

The D.C. BID Council is working in collaboration with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on the initiative.

The Return to DC site includes interactive animations retelling stories “that only locals will understand,” resources and tool kits for both employers and employees, and user-generated social media contributions of personal quips and unique stories about going back to work in the office.

It also features a photo album of things happening now, and a photo contest through July 18 with prizes that include gift cars for restaurants, bars, salons and other businesses.

“We know that individual business and government return to work plans vary, but for that reason, we want to remind everyone that it is all of us who make our city so special. D.C. is defined by what happens here, and it is that experience that we can only get when we come together,” said Leona Agouridis, executive director of the Golden Triangle BID and chair of the DC BID Council.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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