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GW Business Students Partner with District on Economic Plan
June 11, 2012
Consortium of local institutions will help mayor’s office develop five-year economic development strategy.
George Washington University School of Business students will participate in a new partnership with the District of Columbia government, other local business schools and public and private entities to develop a five-year economic development strategy for the district. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, B.A. ’64, kicked off the partnership at an event June 6 at the district’s Carnegie Library building in Mount Vernon Square.
“In my State of the District address this year, I laid out my vision for a new economy in the District of Columbia that is diversified and that prepares our residents to compete in the global marketplace,” Mr. Gray said. “This collaborative effort with the private sector and the academic community will create a road map for getting there.”
MBA students from GW, American University, Georgetown University and Howard University will work collaboratively for several months to interview leaders from sectors including hospitality, health care, construction and technology; district government officials; and representatives from public organizations like the Workforce Investment Council and the Department of Housing and Community Development. Then the students will analyze the information and will produce a report of recommendations and steps the district can take to implement an economic development plan, including a cost/benefit analysis. The entire process should be completed by September, the mayor said.
“The planning period will be short—we want this plan to be done by fall,” Mr. Gray said, emphasizing that the district needs actionable plans to help continue the growth it has experienced in the past several years.
GW School of Business Dean Doug Guthrie spoke at the kick-off event, thanking his fellow deans from American, Georgetown and Howard and highlighting the behind-the-scenes work the students and their business community partners have already done. The MBA students spent the months of April and May in a series of seminars in which they learned the qualitative interview techniques they’ll use during the next stage of the project, as well as how to translate the data they gather into specific actions.
"I know I speak on behalf of the four other business school deans that it is an honor to contribute to the work of Mayor Gray's administration and assist in the district's economic development strategy,” he said. “In today's business climate, we pride ourselves at being at the intersection of business and society and the intersection of business and policy. Working on this project really brings this mission to light for our students.”
GW second-year MBA student Kevin Curley, who is part of the GW team, said the project appealed to him because of the potential positive consequences for the city.
“I wanted to be involved in a project with long-lasting results,” he said. “It’s very interesting to see how the different sectors interact, to take the qualitative information we’ll get from the interviews, and identify strategies to get rid of obstacles and create jobs and revenue.”
Dr. Guthrie said the partnership represents a promising model of how academic institutions can work with municipalities.
“This is just the start of a new model…we believe there are so many ways our institutions can help the city in as big as a way as possible. We want to thank [the mayor’s office] for making us a part of this process,” he said.
Mr. Curley said he was excited to get the project underway.
“We want to create a road map that the city can use, not something that will sit in someone’s desk somewhere,” he said.