Getting people back to work and businesses into empty office buildings downtown is the goal of a $250 million package being proposed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Much of the money would come from the federal American Rescue Plan.
The proposal is part of Bowser’s 2022 “Fair Shot” budget outline, which puts a big focus on paid opportunities, such as apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
“Our mayor knows that by investing almost $6 million in rapid reskilling, we can give Washingtonians without a bachelor’s degree a fair shot at getting credentials they need for good-paying, high-demand careers,” said Unique Morris-Hughes, the director of D.C.’s Department of Employment Services.
Also, $9 million for apprenticeships would help people enter careers in construction, IT, health care, solar and other industries.
“We are building a talent pipeline,” she said.
Noting that the budget proposal shows the District has committed to provide training, coaching and support services for workers, the chair of the D.C. Workforce Investment Council said businesses also need to do their part.
“We need to have industry partners step up and be providers of those careers that people so desperately want,” said Antwanye Ford, president and CEO of Enlightened Inc. and the council’s board chair. “I did not say jobs — I said careers.”
The proposal includes $30 million to attract high-impact employers.
“That gives us another tool, a powerful tool in our toolbox to attract new companies,” Bowser said. “It’s true we’re the best city in the world, but there are a lot of regions and cities out there right now competing with us, and they’re not doing it with two hands tied behind their back, and we have to be prepared to compete as well,” she said.
Millions of dollars are proposed to help employers with staff support to find the right space to locate and grow businesses in the central business district downtown and to interact with D.C.’s Office of Planning and Economic Development, as well as the Washington DC Economic Development Partnership.
Another $4 million will help the Golden Triangle Innovation District downtown attract tech companies focusing on telehealth and telemedicine.