Civic News

Ahead of SXSW trip, Bowser makes major tech announcements

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new partnership with Howard University to provide cheap space to VC firms — and a program to fund three Code for Progress fellows each year.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announces several new tech initiatives at Howard University. Left to right: City Administrator Rashad Young, Howard University President Wayne Frederick, Mayor Bowser, D.C. CTO Tegene Baharu and D.C. CapStat Director Tony Saudek.

(Photo by Lalita Clozel)

Ahead of her upcoming trip to promote D.C. in Austin’s SXSW festival — after making deep cuts to the controversial WeDC campaign — Mayor Muriel Bowser is announcing a handful of new technology initiatives.
The District has “a great tech community,” said Bowser Wednesday at Howard University‘s Founders Library. But “the thing that we lack is a cohesive tech education system that can take startups to the next level.”
Flanked by Howard University President Wayne Frederick, she announced a collaboration with the school that will provide below-market-rate space for venture capital firms interested in investing in local businesses.
The District will fund the construction of 10,000 square feet on the Howard campus, a spokesperson told DC. Firms that will invest in local businesses will be able to stay for up to three years.
She noted her interest in promoting the 7th Street and Georgia Avenue Digital DC Tech Opportunity Corridor envisioned under former mayor Vincent Gray. “They won’t just be talking together,” she said. “They’ll be talking to national customers.”
Bowser also announced the Code for Progress fellowship program: the District will fund three of 15 members of the organization’s cohort. Fellows must be from specific neighborhoods in Wards 5, 7 or 8 where the digital divide “remains,” a spokesperson said.
Bowser also decided to promote a couple tech initiatives that had fallen out of the limelight in recent years: the Connect.DC Digital Inclusion Initiative and CapStat, an initiative championed by former mayor Adrian Fenty that tracks accountability data on the various government agencies. Connect.DC will oversee the Code for Progress fellowship program.
She named D.C.’s new Chief Technology Officer, Tegene Baharu; and the Chief Performance Officer and director of CapStat, Tony Saudek.
Baharu is a former senior engineer for George Washington University and Winstar Communications, who has participated in several tech initiatives for the District, including DC-CAN and DC-Net.
Bowser, who will be traveling to SXSW on Friday, added: “We have something else in our toolbox to talk to the technology companies about.”


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