For the past three years, we have heard much about the impacts of Federal sequestration on the Washington, DC economy. As a region that can attribute much of its historic growth to the Federal government, it is no surprise that many have said that our region is at a crossroads. In 2015, we ranked last compared to other major metropolitan areas in job growth.
Until now, the picture that has been painted has not looked very positive. Organizations across the region have come together to brainstorm solutions and discuss the path forward for our local economy. Perhaps the most well-known of those collaborations is the Roadmap for the Region’s Future Economy group, led by Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University.
Earlier this month, Dr. Fuller presented some of the group’s recommendations at the Cardinal Bank Economic Forecast event held in Tysons Corner. This presentation highlighted several important issues, some of which are particularly relevant to small businesses. We wanted to provide a summary of these points for your consideration.
Perhaps the most important point that Dr. Fuller made was to reinforce that the future of our economy depends on businesses moving from only serving the Federal government to serving other national and international clients. These non-local businesses are the future of our economy, according to Dr. Fuller, and will be key for growth in the region.
In order to make this transition, small businesses do not necessarily have to change their business offerings, but rather change to whom they are selling. Our region is primed for international trade, with a high concentration of international governments and leaders. We have excellent connectivity to the rest of the nation and to the world, making it possible for our businesses to take advantage of these markets.
Other important parts of our regional economy to consider are our retail and hospitality sectors. Businesses in these categories are sustained by workers in high-wage industries and tourists across the region. In return, these businesses enhance the quality of life for residents and workers and play a critical role in attracting top talent for local businesses. Our higher-wage and lower-wage industries depend upon one another and are both important to the region’s future success.
Some small businesses may be wondering what they can do to get ahead of these trends and to pivot their business models. If you have any questions about planning for your business’s growth over the next several years, please contact us to set up an appointment. We have particular resources available to government contractors who may be looking to diversify their offerings to other industries.
The future growth of the region will require flexibility. Businesses will need to think “outside the Beltway” to find new clients and markets. We will need to leverage the assets we have for attracting talent, address regional transportation concerns, encourage an entrepreneurial culture, and improve our access to capital. We will need to work together as a region to accomplish these goals, and small businesses play a critical role in our future.