D.C.’s Mayor-elect Vincent Gray began this week to implement his comprehensive plan, announced during the mayoral campaign, to lower unemployment by increasing the amount of education and opportunities available in the District.
Gray also plans to overhaul several programs, remnants of the Fenty administration.
Gray’s plan, “Creating Real Economic Opportunity for All,” emphasizes reforming the Department of Employment Services, which has come under criticism by several government officials who say that the organization has created more summer jobs than long-term careers. This leads to short-term rates of high employment, but no long-term growth, according to officials.
Young D.C. residents are not wholly pleased by the proposed reforms, however. Many high school and college students looking to save money for future education fear that Gray’s elimination of the Summer Employment Program will hurt their chances of finding summer jobs, according to The Washington Post.
Gray’s administration also plans to revitalize already-existent organizations that cater to D.C.’s younger population such as the Workforce Investment Council, Hospitality High School and public charter schools, by altering the leadership and organization of the programs.
Gray also seeks to increase the number of jobs in the District by collaborating with the federal government. According to The Washington Post, Gray hopes that the creation of a Department of Homeland Security complex in Anacostia, an area in Ward 8 where more than 30 percent of people are unemployed, will stimulate job creation. In an interview with The Washington Post, Emily Durso, president of the Hotel Association of Washington, said that the complex will create about 22,000 new jobs, jumpstarting small businesses. Currently, an estimated 40,000 people are unemployed in D.C., according to The Washington Post.
Gray is receiving federal advice in forming and implementing his plans. Gray’s transition financial advisory team consists of Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, and Stephen Trachtenberg, former president of The George Washington University. The two have formerly collaborated on efforts to increase the number of small businesses in D.C. and neighborhood revitalization projects.