April 20, 2020

DC2021 Presents Plan for the District of Columbia's Economic Recovery from COVID-19 Impacts; Offers to Assist the District with Coronavirus Testing and Federal Lobbying Efforts

4 min

Business coalition DC2021 presents its COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Plan for DC

Local restaurant, retail, hotel, arts, sports, and entertainment businesses join civic leaders to form an advocacy group, DC2021, to support the District's economic recovery from the pandemic. The group presented its recommendations to the Council of the District of Columbia on April 16, 2020.

Some of the District of Columbia's largest and most powerful businesses are lobbying District lawmakers for a massive new tax relief program, arguing that the changes are essential to save the region's hospitality industry amid the coronavirus crisis.

DC2021, a recently formed coalition of civic leaders, restaurateurs, local retailers, hotel owners, and owners of local sports teams and music venues, presented its COVID-19 Impact & Recovery Plan to the Council of the District of Columbia (the Council) in a virtual meeting on April 16, 2020. DC2021 says the group based its recovery plan on its findings about the impact of the virus and related projections, including their estimate that the District has lost more than 60,000 jobs in the group's industries, largely because of virus mitigation measures, such as the prohibition against gatherings of more than 10 people and the shutdown order to nonessential businesses. The organization outlined its recommendations for an immediate approach, proposed legislation, and actions it believes the public and private sectors must take urgently to support the District and the community, as the District begins its economic recovery. The plan also details the group's view of the immediate assistance needed to protect and restart its contribution to the economic infrastructure that drives approximately 30% of the District's economy and contributes 30% of local tax revenue.

As part of the presentation to the Council, DC2021 highlighted that, since the initial COVID-19-related market shutdown, more than 5,000 DC restaurants have closed or converted to delivery only; more than half of the District's locally owned hotels have closed; retail sales have dropped by $910 million; and all arts, sports, and entertainment venues have closed.

Recommended actions included in the DC2021 COVID-19 Impact & Recovery Plan
  • Secure a one-year tax abatement for restaurants, retailers, hotels, and sports and entertainment businesses (cost to the District: approximately $346 million)
  • Accelerate the planned elimination of transfer and recordation taxes for affected industries to July 2020 (originally planned for 2023)
  • Eliminate franchise taxes temporarily
  • Secure a special Treasury bond that would allow the District to borrow against the equivalent of 20% of its revenue (requires local and federal action)
  • Utilize the District's "Rainy Day Fund" (approximately $1.43 billion)
  • Utilize the District's "Events DC Fund" (approximately $1.23 billion)

In addition, DC2021 is proposing that recipient businesses partner with the District to implement an aggressive testing and contact tracing program, with a potential cost of $50 million. The group is also committed to helping District leaders in their effort to secure full federal funding of COVID-19 assistance based on provisions made for states, and not territories, under the CARES Act and any future coronavirus stimulus legislation. If the federal government had treated the District as a state for funding under the CARES Act, the District would have received an additional $750 million.

The group's proposed changes would add to the District's budget, which currently has a projected $600 million budget gap for the next two fiscal years. Furthermore, the Council has already created a $25 million grant program to help small businesses – one of the largest such efforts in the region. District leaders won't be able to debate the group's proposals until Mayor Bowser proposes a new budget on May 6, 2020. The Council hopes to complete the budget process by July 14, 2020.

About DC2021

DC2021 is an advocacy group comprising local businesses and civic leaders working with local and civic trade organizations, and city and federal officials, to support the District and its leaders in saving 10,065 DC businesses and 172,399 jobs, including 80,000 DC resident jobs. DC2021 was founded by Hoffman & Associates Founder and Chair Monty Hoffman and City Partners' Founder & Managing Member Geoffrey Griffis. The list of members currently includes Akridge Invested, Amazon, Asadoorian Retail Solutions, Baywood Hotels, Ben's Chili Bowl, The Bernstein Companies, B.F. Saul Company, Brookfield Properties, Busboys and Poets, Carmen Group Inc., Carr Companies, CityPartners, DC United, Donatelli Management, Donohoe, EastBanc, Eastdil Secured, EDENS, Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation, Foulger-Pratt, Georgetown University, I.M.P., International Spy Museum, JBG Smith, JLL, Kastle Systems, Lerner Enterprises, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, Premium Title & Escrow, Roadside Development, the Smithsonian Institution, District Wharf, and Tiber Hudson. Members are coordinating with the Federal City Council, DC Chamber of Commerce, District of Columbia Building Industry Association, Southwest Business Improvement District, Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, Hotel Association of Washington DC, and Destination DC.