Report: Federal government losing control of local economy

WASHINGTON — A sobering new economic report shows the federal government is losing its steam in the D.C. region.

In 2010, the federal government accounted for 40 percent of the local economy. By 2020, it’s expected to drop to less than 30 percent, according to a new report by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

“We have ranked 93rd out of 100 regions over the last several years,” COG Chairman Roger Berliner said. “We have to change. This cannot be ‘a company town.’ This has to be a different kind of company town — an innovative economy.”

Berliner, a councilman in Montgomery County, said local communities should work together to attract investment and promote the region’s resources, which include biomedical and cybersecurity expertise.

“I’ve gone to China with our county and I have to tell you, I felt like they were looking at me like ‘Really, Montgomery County? Who’s Montgomery County?’” Berliner recalled.

“If I was there as part of a regional trade mission [for] Greater Washington, then I think that will present greater opportunities,” he emphasized.

COG’s “State of the Region” report details a number of discouraging factors.

Job growth in the D.C. region is nearly stagnant and among the slowest in the nation. Inflation has outpaced median wages for years, and 39 percent of area households spend more than half their income on housing.

Later this week, the region will apply to join a Brookings Institution/JPMorgan Chase project to help U.S. metro areas adjust their economies.

The Global Cities Initiative is a five-year project to help communities broaden their appeal to world-wide markets.

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