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Mayor Bowser announces slew of tech-centric events

The monthlong “innoMAYtion” program is rife with access-focused initiatives.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced innovation-focused partnerships with Howard University and Code for Progress in March 2015. (Photo by Lalita Clozel)

After starting partnerships with Howard University and Code for Progress, Mayor Muriel Bowser is sticking to an access-focused approach to the tech industry.
On Monday, she will announce a series of innovation-centric initiatives as she formally launches CompeteDC, a new small business training initiative from the Department of Small & Local Business Development.
Quaintly branded as “InnoMAYtion,” the approximately monthlong agenda will present a low-cost overture to entrepreneurs, civic technologists and the creative community from a new administration that started out by slashing the District’s budget for a controversial marketing campaign at SXSW.
Bowser seeks to bring “innovation as a tool to improve the lives of district residents,” and “brand the district as a regional and global innovation hub,” Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development spokesman Joaquin McPeek told Technical.ly DC.
Here’s what the District has on its agenda to woo the technology and startup scene:

  • The District will partner with downtown incubator 1776 to offer workshops for promising low-income high school graduates in order “expose them to career opportunities in the digital economy,” said McPeek. The program will accept up to 30 students.
  • Bowser will attend a slate of technology events like Microsoft’s DigiGirlz Day on May 21, the 1776 Challenge Cup and a ribbon-cutting ceremony to welcome Pigmental Studios, a Los Angeles-based animation company that will bring 50 jobs, plus training opportunities, to District residents when it moves its headquarters here. (The move has been in the works since at least last year). “They’re not just moving to the district, they’re becoming part of the community,” said McPeek.
  • The Department of Parks and Recreation will launch a coed coding camp for children aged 14 to 17. In these summer courses, kids will learn to create software, including video games and apps.
  • The Commission on the Arts and Humanities will produce an interactive map of all art studios, exhibits and local artists’ spaces. “The intent is to make sure that we are making sure that we are reaching out to residents and artists,” said McPeek.
  • On May 9, the District Department of Transportation and the Department of Economic Development, along with Code for DC, will hold a “hackathon and policy jam” to brainstorm ways to improve on the District’s transportation ecosystem. Topics addressed will include streetcar ticketing apps; transit data viz; and trip planning to enhance physical accessibility (RSVP by May 5).
  • The Mayor will also announce her innovation team later this month. “In order to solve the city’s toughest challenges we’re going to make sure that we’re going to be nimble,” said McPeek. “We know that by having the right people and the right technologies we can provide not just rapid response but cost-effective solutions.”
  • On June 1, Bowser will have a “sit-down conversation” at Google’s D.C. office with Walter Isaacson, CEO and president of the Aspen Institute, which just recently launched an Urban Innovator-in-Residence program.

McPeek declined to disclose a price tag for the “InnoMAYtion” agenda.
“Many of the initiatives will utilize existing resources,” he said. “We just want to create an awareness about what opportunities are available to District residents.”
He added, “the technology sector, innovation sector are really areas where the District has shown growth but can grow even more.”

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