Washington, DC is a city where innovation is a major focus. It is the seat of the federal government after all, so if DC isn't moving forward in innovative ways, it can hardly set an example for the rest of the country. It's also a city full of potential but lacks equal distribution of these resources for innovation to happen amongst all of the city's innovators. The city is already making steps towards combatting this.
Earlier this month, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser kicked off the second annual innoMAYtion, a month-long initiative that showcases DC’s innovation ecosystem. The initiative concentrates on innovative and inclusive ways the city and local entrepreneurs are helping to meet the needs of District residents to reshape the city.
“The District continues to be the epicenter for inclusive innovation and technology in the country,” said Mayor Bowser in a statement. “Through innoMAYtion, we look to shine a light on the innovative ideas, policies, and programs that are improving our most underserved communities, tackling our city’s challenges, and giving every Washingtonian a fair shot.”
Mayor Bowser announced a new program as part of this year's innoMaytion. Project 500 is a partnership between American University's Center for Innovation in the Capital and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity. The goal is to provide resources to 500 disadvantaged small businesses, on the east side of the Anacostia River, mostly in Wards 7 and 8. The businesses will include home-based companies and start-up ventures.
“We are committed to supporting entrepreneurs in the District, particularly east of the river, because when small businesses thrive, they expand access to high-quality goods, services, and job opportunities right in our neighborhoods,” said Courtney Snowden, deputy mayor for greater economic opportunity in a statement.
Many of the innoMaytion events are focused on technology. For example, The Center for Innovation in the Capital will help identify existing programs, as well as develop new products and services that can be used to help home-based businesses obtain retail space and start-up ventures access critical social and financial capital. Additionally, during the month theDeputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) will work with Howard University to gather quantitative data on the current state of diversity and inclusion in DC's tech sector and set goals for participation in the tech economy. At the end of the month, the District will release a Tech Inclusion Action Plan.