FAST: Small Firms’ Role in D.C.’s Economic Development

A little over two miles away from Kogod, on MacArthur Boulevard, is the headquarters of BioScan. It’s a 30 year-old technology firm I had the pleasure of visiting last week, along with D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and members of his economic development team and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The mayor was there to announce an initiative that will help small firms like BioScan connect to funding opportunities through the Federal and State Technology (FAST) grant program. The groundbreaking equipment that BioScan manufactures facilitates life sciences research and informs the development of medical treatments.

Such small firms are often at a disadvantage when competing for Federal research and development awards, even though there are 11 federal agencies that give out more than $2.5 billion each year.

I was present to offer Kogod’s full support to the effort, which is part of the city’s strategy to expand the growth of high-paying, sustainable jobs. Specifically, the mayor’s economic development plan calls for 100,000 new jobs over five years. His goal is for the District to become the largest technology center on the East Coast. Last summer, I supported the city’s Department of Small and Local Business Development with its application for the grant.

The mayor spoke of the need for key partners in the academic sector, and said he would involve “the best universities in our innovation efforts.” In fact, Kogod students have already been involved, in the form of internships with the mayor’s office, conducting field research with businesses in the city.

When she spoke, Bridget Bean, district director for the U.S. SBA, said there was “no better place to start a business than the District of Columbia.” I’ve spoken to many entrepreneurs, alumni, and future business leaders who would agree. My new strategic vision for Kogod also prioritizes the advancement of entrepreneurs and innovation in the areas of green- and clean-technology and numerous other fields, right here in D.C.

 

15
Jan 2013
AUTHOR Michael Ginzberg
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