When D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) journeyed to the Bay Area this month, she met with the chief executives of Yelp and Netflix, toured a next-generation Apple store, and rode in one of Uber’s new autonomous vehicles.
She sat across the table beaming as Yelp chief executive Jeremy Stoppelman said his $3.2 billion company increasingly looks to Washington when it expands outside of the Bay Area.
That interest is not without its challenges, as Washington and other big cities wrestle with how best to address the problems of residents who are far less likely to be hired for many of the six-figure engineering jobs the tech companies are eager to fill.
Bowser’s administration, for instance, has a goal of creating 5,000 tech jobs for women and minorities and helping that cohort start 500 companies.
“We’ve been focused on how we can be more intentional about attracting tech companies, growing technologists in our city and investing in what we think is our niche — and that’s being an inclusive tech capital, encouraging women and people of color to start businesses,” she said.
At the same time, she said, tech growth can be a springboard to broader economic opportunities. Yelp, for instance, is quickly hiring sales staff. Amazon, should it come, needs engineers but also legal, accounting and administrative staff. Tech firms require health-care and custodial services; their workers drive business to stores and restaurants.