Mar 29, 2022 - Economy

$4.7 billion to make D.C.-area business more diverse

Howard University members of Vice President Harris' sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, celebrate her election

On Nov. 7, 2020, Howard University members of Vice President Harris' sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, celebrate her election. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Vice President Harris will return Wednesday to her alma mater, Howard University, for a Greater Washington Partnership announcement of $4.7 billion in commitments over five years to increase the diversity of Capital Region businesses and workers.

Why it matters: The partnership — an alliance of CEOs and community leaders from Baltimore to Richmond — believes that in the global war for talent, the region's economic future will be tied to being more inclusive.

Harris will deliver remarks on small business. She'll be joined by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Small Business Administration head Isabel Guzman.

The $4.7 billion, backed by some of the area's largest employers, will be directed three ways, the partnership's announcement says:

  1. Supplier diversity: $2.6 billion toward procurement spending with diverse suppliers and Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), with a priority on Black- and Latino-owned businesses.
  2. Racial equity: $1.5 billion in wealth-building opportunities in underrepresented communities, including direct corporate investments in affordable housing, and in community organizations that are leading place-based equity initiatives.
  3. Access to capital: $619 million for financial investments in local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs).

What we're watching: The partnership hopes this plan will become a model for other regions' approach to economic growth, with collaboration across public and private sectors.

  • JPMorgan Chase vice chairman Peter Scher, who chairs the partnership, said: "This is a testament to the power of collective action."

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