Month-long initiative will focus on inclusive innovation, begins with launch of program to assist 500 underserved DC businesses
Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) kicked off the second annual innoMAYtion, Mayor Bowser’s month-long initiative that showcases DC’s innovation ecosystem. Highlighting public and private sector programs, innoMAYtion will concentrate on innovative and inclusive ways the city meets the needs of District residents and how ideas from local entrepreneurs are reshaping the city.
“The District continues to be the epicenter for inclusive innovation and technology in the country,” said Mayor Bowser. “Through innoMAYtion, we look to shine a light on the innovative ideas, policies, and programs that are improving our most underserved communities, tackling our city’s challenges, and giving every Washingtonian a fair shot.”
Mayor Bowser began innoMAYtion with the launch of Project 500, a partnership between American University’s new Center for Innovation in the Capital and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity (DMGEO). The program will help 500 disadvantaged small businesses in the District grow in revenue and size over the next three years. Project 500 will target business in Wards 7 and 8 to receive hands-on training, capacity building, mentoring and networking support.
The Center for Innovation in the Capital will help identify existing programs, as well as develop new products and services that can be used to help home-based businesses obtain retail space and start-up ventures access critical social and financial capital.
“Project500 is an initiative designed to accelerate resident-owned businesses in overlooked and underserved communities,” said Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity Courtney R. Snowden. “We are committed to supporting entrepreneurs in the District, particularly east of the river, because when small businesses thrive, they expand access to high-quality goods, services, and job opportunities right in our neighborhoods.”
The launch of Project 500 is the first of many events occurring throughout the month of May. Events during the innoMAYtion will primarily focus on three key sectors: Innovation in Government, the District’s Growing Innovation Economy, and ‘Smart Cities’ Initiatives in DC.
“innoMAYtion isn’t just about creating the latest technology or app to help a select few,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner. “Our goal is to foster a collaborative environment between the District and its residents to improve every neighborhood. As we work to include more underserved communities and entrepreneurs, this initiative will allow more Washingtonians to participate in, and benefit from, our growing innovation economy.”
At the conclusion of the month, the District will release a Tech Inclusion Action Plan. Working with Howard University, DMPED will gather quantitative data on the current state of diversity and inclusion in DC’s tech sector and set bold goals for participation in the tech economy. To realize these goals, the city will define recommendations in key areas such as education, training, investment, entrepreneurship, and accessibility.
Other innoMAYtion events include a Great Streets Hackathon that will convene civic hackers, data gurus, small business owners, and advocates to develop creative solutions that strengthen small and local businesses in the District.
DMPED will also host a Made in DC Makers Summit in partnership with Think Local First and the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) at Union Market designed to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and successfully market their products.
Content will be substantive and beneficial to a wide and diverse audience of Makers and contributors to the local creative economy.