The iconic center of American democracy, the District of Columbia (the District) is synonymous with our nation’s deeply held values of liberty, freedom, and justice and is where millions have converged through the generations to make their voices heard, to celebrate of progress and to protest of injustice. However, for the last two decades, the nation’s capital has become equally renowned for its staggering economic disparity—ranking higher than any other state in the country. Dedicated to addressing the needs of under-resourced communities in order to stimulate growth and rebuild healthy, sustainable neighborhoods, Mayor Muriel Bowser established the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity (DMGEO) to focus on workforce development, community revitalization, and bolstering resident entrepreneurship.
Over the last 15 years, noticeable improvements have been made. In some pockets, entire neighborhoods have been revived, with poorly maintained buildings and vacant lots on key commercial corridors completely transformed into thriving mixed-use developments anchored by small businesses. And yet, the renaissance has been confined primarily to quadrants west of the Anacostia River, made up of neighborhoods with residents with significantly higher incomes and educational opportunities. In contrast, underinvestment in neighborhoods located in an area referred to as “East of the River (Anacostia)” remains of concern to residents, stakeholders, and elected officials.
Recognizing that community revitalization begins in large part with residents owning and operating small businesses, yet acknowledging the pervasive challenges they face navigating a highly complex and bureaucratic government, the District of Columbia will embark upon a bold new initiative to create a stronger, more cohesive, comprehensive, and transparent ecosystem for small businesses in underserved corridors. To support this work, the DMGEO and the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) will partner with FUSE Corps to host for one year an executive-level fellow who will take the lead establishing programs that will streamline government processes, while creating new pathways to resident entrepreneurship that promote inclusive economic opportunity and stimulate growth.
Project Summary & POtential deliverables
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the Fellow, and FUSE staff during the first month of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the Fellow and the host agency.
Starting in September 2018, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will take the lead in developing and implementing effective and sustainable programs that effectively address key challenges for small business ownership in stagnant corridors including identifying opportunities, accessing capital, and purchasing affordable commercial space, as well as those related to operations and technology, construction and procurement, and workforce system linkages. Engaging with all stakeholders and government agencies involved in the small business ecosystem, the FUSE Fellow will commence with a deep dive to assess the viability of existing small business programs and the impact of those programs on businesses in under-resourced corridors.
As a high-level executive with extensive experience in private sector small business development, ownership, and operations, the ideal candidate will possess strong process and project management skills and a clear understanding of the challenges facing small businesses, particularly in highly bureaucratic environments. In addition to proven success identifying business opportunities, raising capital, and procuring commercial real estate, the candidate will have a solid background in human resources, marketing, communications, and community outreach. Finally, the selected FUSE Fellow will be passionate about supporting all stakeholders including government officials, public and private partners, and resident entrepreneurs and small business owners—and their communities and culture—while demonstrating a fervent commitment to equity.
- Analyze existing infrastructure and set core program goals: Establish a working group of key representatives from government agencies and external organizations and conduct a comprehensive landscape analysis assessing and evaluating current processes, policies, procedures, and small business resources, as well as existing barriers and limitations for resident entrepreneurs.
- Research small business initiatives across the U.S. and identify new strategies: Facilitate a learning collaborative to analyze existing successful small business programs emerging in cities throughout America, and share best practices for developing new systems that clarify and simplify government agency processes.
- Implement business-friendly government programs, policies, and procedures: Design and develop a streamlined approach that provides resident entrepreneurs and small business owners in under-resourced corridors with a clear roadmap and a technical assistance framework that de-mystifies and simplifies government offerings and requirements for small business owners. Innovate and implement programs that address intractable problems, including access to capital, that are endemic to resident entrepreneurs in underserved communities.
- Develop partnerships to maximize opportunities: Establish public and private partnerships that tap new resources, create new pathways for those that are increasingly on the other end of the opportunity divide, and engage active members of the small business community, as well as employers and individuals who have received services from the government workforce system.
- Promote inclusive economic opportunity: Create compelling marketing, communications, and community outreach campaigns that target desired populations and result in increased numbers of resident-owned small businesses in underserved and distressed communities across the District.
- Courtney Snowden, Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, Office of the Mayor
- Faith P. Leach, Chief of Staff, Office of the Mayor
- At least 15 years of professional experience in small business development, ownership, and operations, with proven ability to lead in management and shifting internal culture.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.