High-Road Development: Building Prosperity for Workers and the District

Over the past twenty years, the District has seen dramatic economic and population growth, including a development boom that has transformed the city’s skyline, remade neighborhoods, and changed the city’s employment landscape. These changes have led to prosperity for some, but that prosperity has not been shared with DC’s low-wage workers. District leaders should seize on DC’s growth as an opportunity to encourage “high-road development,” pairing development with high-quality jobs in ways that will support workers, residents, and high-quality development projects.

By taking a high-road economic development approach—in which developers partner with unions, invest in workers, and provide quality employment opportunities to residents—the District can ensure that the city’s ongoing growth provides benefits to DC residents and workers. Unfortunately, District leaders have missed many opportunities to practice high-road development. In projects such as the Wharf and Union Market, the city has sweetened development deals with large subsidy packages, without setting job quality standards for District workers – subsidizing low-wage, low-quality employment that makes it hard for workers to make ends meet in a city where the cost of living keeps going up.

Read the DC Fiscal Policy Institute Report