Greater Washington Partnership unveils 10-year inclusivity plan
Blueprint focuses on holistic solutions to equity gaps
The Greater Washington Partnership released its “Regional Blueprint for Inclusive Growth” Monday, a 10-year plan to increase equity and create a more inclusive economy in the capital region, spanning Baltimore to Richmond.
The plan was launched at an event hosted by Sheila Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hotels and Resorts and an owner of three pro sports franchises, and Washington Commanders President Jason Wright, who served as co-chairs of the partnership’s Inclusive Growth Strategy Council, launched in April 2021 with 45 business leaders. More than 35 companies and 200 community members in the Washington, D.C., region were involved in the year-long process of developing the strategy, which includes a 100-plus-page report meant to guide private sector engagement with public sectors.
The focus is on six pillars, including accessible education, inclusive employment opportunities, access to capital, affordable housing, transportation and digital infrastructure and health equity. The report does not include deadlines for achieving benchmarks.
“Collaboration is vital to creating real change across the region,” Johnson said in a statement. “By working together to create a prosperous, equitable and resilient society for people of all backgrounds and incomes, we can ensure that our region and our communities will thrive for generations to come.”
The blueprint comes on the heels of an announcement in March of an initiative to infuse $4.7 billion in funding to advance business efforts by minorities and other underrepresented communities. Included in the total are $2.6 billion in procurement spending with diverse suppliers, including Black and Latino-owned business to support growth and scale and address critical needs; $1.5 billion in other wealth-building efforts, including direct corporate investments in affordable housing and local community organizations leading equity initiatives; and another $619 million for financial investments in financial institutions that provide access to underrepresented populations via loans and other financing to create economic opportunity.
Also in March, Partnership CEO JB Holston stepped down, and a national search for his replacement was launched by the board.
“Through cross-sector collaboration and leadership we have the opportunity to create transformational change throughout our communities,” Wright said in a statement. “The blueprint’s business-oriented approach for area stakeholders harnesses a combination of advocacy, resource sharing, financial investments and organizational change that will pave the way for everyone in our region to succeed.”
In the plan’s executive summary, it says the region’s economic growth rate lags behind that of the national economy. GWP believes “prioritizing inclusive economic growth will ensure all community members prosper and thrive.” An analysis by management firm McKinsey & Co. estimates that in the Capital Region, closing the racial wealth gap has the potential to unlock $35 billion to $50 billion in the region’s gross domestic product by 2028.