Greater Washington leaders weigh in on how to survive economic uncertainty

From The Washington Business Journal:

Greater Washington is facing slowing population and job growth, and potential federal job cuts are hanging over the region like the Sword of Damocles — but there are ways to prepare for possible economic upheaval.

Merge with one another.

“If you don’t really consider merging and leveraging, you are not going to survive,” said Rosie Allen-Herring, president and CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area, at The 2030 Group’s Roadmap for the Washington Region’s Economic Future event at the Hay-Adams on Thursday.

She said nonprofits, in particular, need to think more like traditional businesses and find ways to collaborate, and indeed combine, with other nonprofits. That’s how they can deal with the prospect of reduced grant funding under a potential Trump administration budget, even as demand increases for their services among the local population, she said.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge we need to have and we should have been looking at a long time ago,” Allen-Herring said. “It’s called survival.”

The Roadmap event also featured the unveiling of a new marketing video for the region, and a corresponding fundraising effort, an update on the regional economy by economist Stephen Fuller (spoiler alert: there are clouds ahead), and updates from regional efforts to foster collaboration and economic development.

And while several hundred people gathered to listen about the region at the top of the Hay-Adams, with views overlooking the White House, the topic was mostly about how to get out from under the shadow of the federal government and prepare for possible cuts to come. Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill, another panelist, said the state would concentrate on what it can control and not get caught up in the national political fray.

Either way, it’s going to be a bumpy ride, said Don Graham, chairman of Graham Holdings Co. and former publisher of The Washington Post.

“I wonder if we shouldn’t be talking more about the possibility that the next four years could be a lot tougher in this region,” Graham said.

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Copyright Washington Business Journal, reprinted with permission