Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 13, the Democratic nominee for DC mayor, Muriel Bowser, is holding #MeetMuriel, an event at WeWork Wonder Bread Factory to talk about her platform regarding the future of technology and entrepreneurship in the District. In preparation for the event, the Bowser campaign is reaching out to the public and asking them to submit their questions online for the mayoral candidate. Having covered the DC tech scene, I’ve got a few questions for the candidate, which she will hopefully address.
After she beat out current Mayor Vincent Gray in the Democratic mayoral primary, there has been much speculation as to what Muriel Bowser plans to do with regards to support for DC’s growing tech community. While Bowser certainly hasn’t yet won the mayoral race, DC is dominated by Democrats, which means that she will likely become the next mayor of the District. (In a recent blog post from The Economist, Washington, DC, was ranked as one of the most liberal cities in America – second only to San Francisco.)
Throughout his term, Gray has gone above and beyond to support the growth of the tech sector in the District. Most notably, his administration worked to launch the Digital DC initiative, an effort to develop a tech corridor in the city, along with a new tech fund to support growth of DC-based tech startups. Back in 2012, he introduced tax breaks and incentives for tech companies and investors, including the approval for LivingSocial’s $32.5 million tax break and a later $200,000 grant for the development of startup hub 1776 – all in an effort to improve the employment and overall economy of the District.
And, while the mayor’s initiatives in tech and entrepreneurship have had an overall positive effect on further spurring economic development in the District, continued efforts are needed in order to sustain long-term growth. Taking all of this into consideration, I have a few questions of my own for Muriel Bowser:
Bowser has a history of not wanting to give priority to some over others when it comes to tax breaks and incentives. Expressing her belief on the bill to provide incentives to tech startups, the Councilwoman said, “We don’t want to give gifts of tax relief to some but not others…I don’t believe we should jump one sector ahead of that conversation.” If tax breaks and incentives aren’t on her agenda, what can we expect from her adminstration when it comes to encouraging companies to startup in the District?
Bowser has been reported as saying that, under her administration, DC will continue to be supportive of the tech community. “I get a lot of questions from the technology community about what we need to do to be more competitive…We know the Gray administration has been very supportive of 1776, and we will be too.” But as to whether she will continue to support any/all of the initiatives and programs currently in place, Bowser hasn’t said much. For instance, what are her plans for the direction of Digital DC once Gray leaves office?
Gray has been an active proponent of the DC tech community. And, while the DC tech community will continue to grow and to support itself independent of political involvement, collaboration with the Gray administration has led to the creation of innovative joint initiatives. What role can we expect for Bowser to play within the community? Is entrepreneurship and tech in the District a top priority for her?
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