James P. Moore Jr., the managing director of the Business, Society, and Public Policy Initiative at the McDonough School of Business, has been appointed to the Economic Development and Jobs Committee of D.C. Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser’s mayoral transition team. Moore has taught international business, corporate ethics and leadership at Georgetown since 1999, served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development and managed the government’s investment program, “Invest in the USA.”
What was your relationship to Muriel Bowser’s mayoral campaign and how were you chosen for this position?
I actually had reached out to all of the candidates who were running for mayor, and I was doing so in my capacity as managing director of this new Business Public Policy Initiative that we have at the business school to be able to make clear the interest that both the business school and Georgetown University had to being supportive, should any of those individuals be elected as mayor. Muriel Bowser had invited me to get together, which we did probably about three months before the election, and had a very healthy discussion on the city’s future and what we might be able to do to help.
How is it important for the MSB and Georgetown to be involved in city politics?
Given that we are a member of the community of the District of Columbia, it’s absolutely critical that we be an integral part of the future of the city. And so whether we’re talking about, geographically, our area or the rest of the city, we have to be responsible partners and responsible members of the community. So this isn’t just an interesting sideline, this is really a top priority, and I think it’s clear that it’s a top priority for President [John J.] DeGioia and Dean David Thomas of the business school.
How are solutions for the business climate in D.C. different across different wards?
Clearly, when we get into issues pertaining to income inequality, you’re going to find wards 7 and 8 being different from wards 2 and 4, and clearly each ward has its own character. But there’s a need to certainly be able to address specific needs in each of the wards, but also to understand that there is a need to be able to lift the entire city up, so that at the end of the day, the wealth that is generated by creating more businesses and by being able to create more jobs clearly funnels into these other wards. Wards aren’t static. Someone who lives in one particular ward is certainly working in another ward. So really trying to tackle these issues collectively as well as individually is key to success.
Most of your experience has been in national politics. How do you think that is going to compare to local politics?
There’s the old line that former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say, and that is, “All politics is local.”
And so whether it’s national or it’s local, the notion of being able to appreciate the dimensions and the dynamics of local economies and local politics, et cetera, is not unlike what you’ll see elsewhere.
In the case of the District of Columbia, we unfortunately have seen some of the problems that have existed, in the case of the current mayor, and I think lessons are being learned very quickly, and there’s a real desire to be able to make some things happen in these next few years, and Georgetown and the McDonough School of Business certainly want to be as supportive as they possibly can.
How have your previous positions in politics prepared you for this one?
Positions that I have held in government could be very helpful. For example [as Assistant Secretary of Commerce], I was responsible for overseeing all of U.S. industry. I was very much involved in trying to have a receptive ear to what they had to say, trying to figure out what we could possibly do on a national level that made sense, both just in terms of their business, trying to create jobs, et cetera. I was heavily involved in the “Invest in the USA” program. I was involved in trying to figure out how best to be able to convince people and businesses that it was in their interest to be able to invest right here in the United States.
Will you continue to teach during this position?
Right now, I’m not teaching. There is such a formidable undertaking for me in being able to set all this up that I’ll get back into the classroom, but it’s going to be a little bit down the road.
What are you most looking forward to about working with the mayor?
I’m looking forward to seeing what her priorities are for the economic development of the city. We’ve been talking about everything from the building of a new soccer stadium to trying to attract the Olympics to come to D.C. There’s even an effort to see whether the city can try to draw the Redskins back.
So there’s some rather large projects that are being discussed, but at the end of the day, I think it’s what can business do, to be able to, first of all, to be able to stay in the District of Columbia, how to draw business into the city. I think this is a terrific opportunity for Georgetown and the business school to be present at the creation when Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser’s trying to really figure alot of things out.
I know that my colleagues and others at the university, administrators, faculty alike are pleased, and I’m certainly going to be tapping into their expertise and their support to see what it is we can do to help continue to make Washington, D.C., a vibrant city right here in our nation’s capital.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.