action framework

To achieve the strategy vision and goals, we must be focused and intentional. The action framework, informed by the analysis and stakeholder input, identifies five areas where we will focus our efforts. Initiatives fall within this framework and will be implemented over the next several years. Click on each section of the action framework to the right to learn more.

Business Environment

Definition: Create a customer-centric business and regulatory environment.

This area involves several types of actions:

  • Improving the District’s regulatory requirements and workflows to reduce unnecessary burdens on business of all types – small and large, new and old – and create a simpler, more efficient business environment in DC.
  • Improving the DC government’s ability to foster innovation through new procurement approaches, i.e. government as customer.
  • Creating a business environment in which resources and opportunities, including individuals and potential collaborators, are accessible and easy to navigate. Recognizing the importance of relationships and social capital, this includes action aimed at fostering connectivity among actors in the business ecosystem.

View the economic strategy report for a full description of this action area.

Several resources already exist to help entrepreneurs quickly and efficiently navigate the business and regulatory environment, including the annual Doing Business Guide published by the Washington DC Economic Partnership, the International Business Guide,, and the Green Book, which identifies all anticipated opportunities to contract with the DC government. In addition, the District’s current procurement rules require that 35% of large District government contracts go to SBEs, and SBE spending has increased by $600 million under Mayor Bowser’s Administration.1 This preference helps to expand the availability of business opportunities for local DC businesses. The new initiatives that fall into this pillar will build from that existing foundation.

Visit the initiatives page and filter Action Framework by “business environment” to see initiatives that will strengthen DC’s business environment.


Definition: Improve access to capital and funding opportunities.

This area involves several types of actions:

  • Building the capacity of DC entrepreneurs to access capital and tap new markets – particularly under-represented entrepreneurs, who face disproportionate barriers to accessing capital – through mentoring, training programs, and accelerators
  • Strategic grant-making or investments of public resources aimed at mitigating barriers for under-represented entrepreneurs, spurring growth in key sectors and/or enabling significant growth and scaling
  • Facilitating connections between entrepreneurs and investors

View the economic strategy report for a full description of this action area.

This section outlines a number of initiatives focused on how to help DC entrepreneurs – particularly entrepreneurs that face disproportionate barriers – better leverage venture capital, angel investment, and public sector grants by jump-starting both District and regional investment capabilities. These efforts are intended to complement the many existing resources, both public and private, that currently exist for this purpose, such as the various incubators and accelerators operating in DC and existing District funding programs, including the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking’s (DISB) loan programs, Project 500, the Great Streets Grants Program and others.

Visit the initiatives page and filter Action Framework by “funding” to see initiatives that will improve access to capital and business opportunities.

Local Identity and Promotion

Definition: Support the local economy by promoting and preserving the unique identity of DC; enable new opportunities for resident entrepreneurship and wealth building.

This area involves several types of actions:

  • Elevating the real identity of Washington, DC – a place that is vibrant, diverse and innovative – to regional, national and international audiences
  • Promoting DC’s competitive advantages and key industry capacities
  • Supporting local businesses and residents through opportunities for entrepreneurship, capacity building, and wealth building
  • Encouraging local buying by other actors with significant purchasing power

View the economic strategy report for a full description of this action area.

One of DC’s biggest assets is its brand. As a longtime seat of power and the home of the U.S. government and more recently a thriving urban center, DC offers businesses – at least in some markets – an advantageous brand associated with power, credibility, and quality. However, that brand also has negative connotations tied to government gridlock and being too focused on one single industry (i.e., government). Locally, DC is viewed as a vibrant, diverse and innovative city with an exploding food and entertainment scene, a cosmopolitan populace, charming neighborhoods. In short, it is so much “more than monuments.” In many stakeholder discussions, the “real DC” identity was raised as a competitive advantage that needs to be better promoted.

Beyond the brand, supporting local business and entrepreneurs is essential to economic growth because doing so creates a local multiplier effect, recirculating those dollars to other businesses in the ecosystem. Business owners who are also residents have a vested interest in the future of our city. The initiatives in the DC Identity and Promotion pillar involve not only promoting the DC identity and business capacities externally, but also encouraging consumers to support local businesses and entrepreneurs and creating opportunities for wealth building and long-term success.

Visit the initiatives page and filter Action Framework by “Local Identity and Promotion” to see initiatives that will elevate DC’s local identity and strengthen local businesses and entrepreneurs.


Definition: Retain talent and empower residents to thrive through industry-advised career pathways and well-connected pipelines.

This area involves several types of actions:

  • Retaining and bolstering DC’s already strong talent base and continue
  • Building talent pipelines and career pathways into growing sectors to promote economic mobility
  • Facilitating connections that build social capital
  • Empowering all DC residents with the capabilities to thrive economically

View the economic strategy report for a full description of this action area.

The talent initiatives are focused on finding ways to attract, retain and bolster DC’s already strong talent base and to empower all DC residents with the capabilities to thrive economically. The initiatives are intended to create career pathways that are aligned with DC’s key industries for all DC residents, including those without four-year college degrees. In four years, 76% of all jobs in DC will require some post-secondary education, whether academic or technical.

The initiatives in this section complement the District’s Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) Unified State Plan (2016-2020), which serves as the guiding document for DC efforts to address such employment challenges. The WIOA plan identifies five in-demand sectors – business administration and information technology, construction, healthcare, hospitality, security and law – as priorities for workforce development, and the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Greater Economic Opportunity (DMGEO) are developing sector-focused career pathways for each of these five areas, with a focus on pathways for residents that do not have a bachelor’s degrees. The WIOA State Unified Plan is available here.

Visit the initiatives page and filter Action Framework by “Talent” to see initiatives that retain, empower and strengthen our workforce.

Space, Housing and Other Supports

Definition: Ensure companies have space to grow, residents have affordable housing, and other supporting drivers of inclusive economic growth are strong.

This area involves several types of actions:

  • Enhancing businesses’ ability to secure office or commercial space
  • Preserving or producing affordable housing for residents
  • Strengthening other factors that are essential to inclusive economic growth, but outside the scope of the economic strategy (e.g. world-class transit system and transportation infrastructure, safe and healthy neighborhoods,  high quality schools, etc.)

Many supporting variables are needed to support a robust and inclusive economy, including office and commercial space for businesses, affordable housing for residents and workers, a reliable, multi-modal transportation network, quality schools, and safe, healthy neighborhoods. While the economic strategy is focused on growing the private sector economy, creating jobs, and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship, it is critical to acknowledge the importance of these enabling supports, some of which fall outside the scope of the economic strategy. The Space, Housing and Other Supports action area describes several initiatives directly pertaining to office/commercial business space and other supporting factors. Click here for more information about how the District is strengthening these essential supports through other strategies.

Stakeholders especially stressed the importance of housing affordability and a safe, reliable transportation network.

Housing affordability is one of the Bowser Administration’s top priorities. Between January 2015 and December 2016, the District produced 3095 new affordable units and, as of December, had another 8393 in the pipeline.2 The Mayor’s $100 million commitment to the Housing Production Trust Fund represents a larger investment in affordable housing per capita than any city in the country, and the District’s Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) Program requires 8-10% of the residential floor area be set-aside for affordable units in new residential development projects of 10 or more units and rehabilitation projects that are expanding an existing building by 50 percent or more and adding 10 or more units. In addition, the Mayor recently increased funding available to help DC residents purchase homes through the Home Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP). The Department of Housing and Community Development’s Consolidated Plan and Preservation Strike Force Plan provides full details on the District’s affordable housing efforts.

Similarly, establishing a world-class transportation system is a priority for the Bowser Administration. Move DC, the District’s long-range multi-modal transportation plan and associated two-year action plan, describes the many efforts underway. To ensure the long-term viability of Metro, a sustainable financing mechanism is essential, and Mayor Bowser continues to push tenaciously for a regional solution.