DC has the highest rate of HIV infection, the highest Black/White income disparity and the most rapid gentrification in the United States. These facts are not unrelated. Together, they point to the true economic development policy, at least for Black people, in the city. My analysis and experience, described in detail below, supports this contention.
Since 2005, we have been managing an effort to bring crowdfunding to small businesses in DC. My firm was selected to develop a crowdfunding program for the District's Great Streets Program. The effort we undertook was initially funded at $85,000, was reduced to $25,000 and further reduced to $20,000. DC has actually paid a fraction of this amount. Despite this, we moved ahead.
We helped increase positive perception of economic development officials in DC. A senior official at the US Small Business Administration complemented these efforts, stating that:
“It's good that the DC team (DMPED) continues to explore innovative paths to support entrepreneurs and civic-centered projects.”
Our efforts resulted in an innovative partnership between the US SBA and DC.
On March 6th, I testified before the DC City Council and provided detailed comments on economic development in DC.
The bottom line is this: male African-American DC native owned firms receive far less consideration from the DC Government, relative to the favors accorded and afforded non-minority (white-owned) firms in the city:
“The D.C. Council gave..$33 million in tax breaks for LivingSocial to keep the growing company in the District after members deemed it essential to city efforts to brand itself as a hub for start-up and technology companies…the deal will save the five-year-old company about $32.5 million in taxes over a five-year period beginning in 2015. Yet, LivingSocial has no male African-American DC natives in the management ranks.
The City recently "sold" the former site of the R.L. Christian Library at 1300 H Street NE to FundRise, another DC firm that operates in a discriminatory manner with respect to employment and with respect to offering development or investment opportunities to African Americans.
And, then, there's this: "District officials are slated to spend more than $475,000during their visit to South by Southwest in March.. half the budget would be used to convert a restaurant near Austin’s convention center into a “We DC” lounge and work space during the day, and a party venue for attendees to socialize at night. The rental and food costs would be $251,500 over five days."
Really? We spent $300 creating a "South by Southeast" conference focused on Anacostia. It was very successful in highlighting talent in DC. The reason the City did not support this is that we were focused on Black talent. This lack of support is consistent with the "development policy" noted above.
These different standards reflect the true, or revealed economic development plan for the City. It is one that ignores firms owned and operated by male African-American DC natives, women and minority firms, preferring to focus on firms owned by white 20 something entrepreneurs.
It is this policy and behavior that gives rise to the income and wealth gap pictured above.