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Economics / Municipal government

Bowser offers $60M in tax breaks to keep Advisory Board Company in DC

In exchange, the company will sign a 16-year lease for new headquarters in Mount Vernon and hire 1,000 new D.C. residents.

Mayor Muriel Bowser is willing to spend the big bucks to keep research and consulting firm Advisory Board Company in the District.
She has offered the business up to $60 million in tax breaks over 10 years in exchange for a series of commitments, some more impressive than others.

  • The company will sign a 16-year lease to stay in the District. Starting in May 2019, it will move its headquarters to the 655 New York Avenue building in Mount Vernon Square owned by Douglas Development. It is just at the border of the D.C. tech corridor envisioned by the administration of Mayor Vincent Gray, which Bowser seems to have taken up.
  • The company, which has 3,400 employees around the world including 2,000 in D.C. (of which 865  are D.C. residents) has agreed to hire 1,000 D.C. residents over the 10 years of the incentive programs.
  • The Advisory Board Company will train 250 D.C. residents through partnerships with the Department of Employment Services, the DC Learn Earn Advance Prosper (L.E.A.P.) Academy, or other nonprofits, and hire 25 members of these two programs.
  • It will run a mentorship program for students applying to college.
  • It will also partner with the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program to host students in the company.
  • And it has agreed to 25,000 hours per year of volunteer services with D.C. nonprofits.

The $2.4 billion publicly traded company had been thinking about a move since last year, and had been courted by D.C. officials, as well as Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, according to the Washington Post.
In the end, the Advisory Board Company was hesitating between five options, including four in the District and one in Virginia: an empty 390-foot tower in Rosslyn.
The Advisory Board Company has remained faithful to D.C., but at what cost? Bowser’s administration alleges that the windfall for the District could amount to $300 million in net tax revenue.
Bowser spokesman Joaquin McPeek explained that the $300 million was “based upon projected growth and the incentives.”
He added that the company’s hiring commitment was substantial.
“You’d be hard pressed to find an incentive package that would require a company to hire 1,000 net new D.C. residents,” he said.
The Advisory Board Company picked the Mount Vernon building to offer a convenient neighborhood to visiting executives. It is a “thriving location that offers them a range of restaurant, hotel, and entertainment options,” said spokesperson Garen Cuttler in an email.

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