Sponsored by Washington DC Economic Partnership
From the July/August 2023 Issue
Washington DC, the Nation’s Capital, is the epicenter of access and connectivity. That access includes decision makers, policy leaders, global thought leaders, and leading educational institutions and talent. This combination has positioned DC as the economic center of one of the most vibrant regional economies in the nation; a city that powers the global economy.
Once known primarily as a center of government, DC’s economy has become increasingly diverse over the past two decades. It is home to some of the world’s most prestigious think tanks, providing access to federal and private clients and facilitating the production of innovative research. The city’s proximity to decision-makers, federal agencies, and international airports enhances its appeal as a consulting and corporate destination.
Educational institutions are also an important part of the local landscape. Washington, DC is home to 34 colleges and universities including those founded here: American University, Catholic University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and Howard University, and five top-ranked business schools. The depth of the market and appeal to talent have instigated others to establish a presence here, including Johns Hopkins University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Southern California, both establishing campuses in the CBD, placing them at the center of political and academic education and policy.
“Universities are the future of city building, driving long-term alliances and partnerships,” said Adam Glaser, Managing Director, KPMG. “Expect other schools to open campuses in DC over the next decade.”
Industries And Clusters
The intellectual ecosystem extends well beyond secondary education into two of DC’s strongest industry clusters: management consulting and think tanks. The DC metro has nearly four times the national average in concentration of employment, making it the top U.S. metro area for employment in these sectors. The city leads the nation in highly specialized management analysts, economists, and social science research.1
Industry leaders KPMG, McKinsey, and Deloitte maintain offices in the city. Their presence parallels a range of prominent institutions, including some of the top think tanks in the world, such as The Brookings Institution, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Institute of World Politics, and the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace. Collectively these organizations solidify DC’s position as an intellectual and policy hub, providing invaluable resources and opportunities for collaboration, research, and professional development.
The Washington area also plays a prominent role in research and development, particularly in the life sciences, engineering, and data science sectors. It offers a thriving environment for funding, innovation, and talent development, home to institutions such as the Children’s Hospital National Research & Innovation Campus and Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS, contributing cutting-edge research and invention commercialization.
DC’s ranking as the #4 Tech Talent Market for large metros2 and the #2 City for Women in Tech in the U.S.3, has helped validate the city as a thriving tech hub and earned the DC metro the distinction as a 2023 Top 10 Corporate Headquarters location by Business Facilities magazine. The inclusive workforce is a competitive advantage for companies located here.
Recent investments in the District have come from industry giants to startup ventures. Google’s recent 130,000 SF lease in downtown demonstrates the city’s allure for this sector. Virtru, a DC-based cybersecurity firm providing encryption services, recently expanded its footprint to accommodate its growth.
While there are challenges post-COVID within the local economy, the District has revealed how resilient it is on a continued trajectory of recovery from the pandemic. This is demonstrated by positive employment (3.8%)4 and residential growth (0.5%)5 from 2021 to 2022. The real estate market has stabilized, evidenced by 9.7 M SF of groundbreakings in 2022, a 7.8% increase over 2021.6
C-Suite executives claim the combination of locational assets, including talent and transit, complemented by exceptional amenities and great real estate, is driving this growth. Corporations are taking advantage of an inventory of premium real estate with prestigious addresses unavailable for decades due to national trends in downsizing and a flight to quality. Several corporate headquarters have relocated to DC in the past 18 months, including the International Baccalaureate Centre for the Americas, The 4-H Council, and Xylem, a water innovation company that recently relocated its global headquarters here from New York.
Access to an amazing address is only part of what compelled Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to relocate its largest office in the Mid-Atlantic region to DC in 2022. BCG leadership determined that moving downtown would allow it to take advantage of all the city offers and set an example as one of the first companies to move back into DC post-pandemic.
“Being downtown is attractive to the young talent which is crucial to our business in a way that is not replicable in the suburbs.”
— Justin Dean, Managing Director & Senior Partner, BCG
“Our executive team realized the move into DC would improve the quality of experience for our team members, which is a priority. Being downtown is attractive to the young talent which is crucial to our business in a way that is not replicable in the suburbs,” said Justin Dean, Managing Director & Senior Partner. “It also allows them to have shorter commutes, spend more time with family and friends etc. as well as easy access to a rich suite of amenities, which also benefits our partners and clients when we host them.”
Dean noted a central location offers all of that and the opportunity to directly impact the fabric of the District both economically and socially. BCG is excited to be an engaged corporate partner. Their new space, 98,000 SF in Boston Properties’ recent renovation of the Metropolitan Square building, located directly across from the White House does just that.
By choosing DC, companies position themselves in a center of excellence and unlock opportunities for growth, influence, and success on a global scale. Visit the Washington DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP) to learn more about doing business in Washington, DC.
“DC’s Comeback Plan” is already helping one tech company grow in the district. Read more…
1 JobsEQ (Q3 2022 covered employment). Based on analysis of top 25 metro areas.
2 Business Facilities (2023)
3 Smartasset (2022)
4 JobsEQ (covered employment)
5 U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division
6 Washington DC Economic Partnership
Check out all the latest news related to economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection in Washington, DC.