DC leaders tout tech growth at Social Tables event - Technical.ly DC

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Feb. 4, 2016 1:27 pm

DC leaders tout tech growth at Social Tables event

Mayor Bowser joined federal officials to provide the full rundown of what's being done to make D.C. a tech destination.

Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks at Social Tables.

(Photo courtesy of Social Tables)

At the first official event in its new, downtown D.C. office, event software company Social Tables went big. The startup welcomed Mayor Muriel Bowser and other D.C. tech leaders for a press conference highlighting the ways the nation’s capital is growing into a tech hub.

Social Tables CEO and founder Dan Berger took the opportunity to both renew the company’s commitment to #dctech and announce a new initiative the company hopes will bring new life to the city’s Metro Center area.

Mayor Bowser, who was also joined by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Chief of Staff Vikrum Aiyer and Washington, DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP) CEO Keith Sellers, opened her remarks by highlighting the changes the city has see in just a handful of years, a sentiment echoed later in the conference by Berger. Although once a “joke” when it came to bringing in new business and often thought of as “a government town,” Bowser pointed out that D.C. has far more to offer.

“That’s only a little bit of the story of Washington,” she told the crowd, highlighting the 11 percent private-sector growth the city has seen in recent years.

Packed room @socialtables, @mayor_bowser, and @whitehouse press event. #dctech

A photo posted by Elliot (@thejournalizer) on

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She also discussed the initiatives underway to not only make D.C. a destination for tech companies, but also to offer residents the opportunity to find their own place in the growing tech sector.

A partnership with Howard University opened the city’s first tech and venture lab, and local incubator 1776 has brought tech education initiatives into schools and the community. Other initiatives have introduced coding and innovation camps for underserved populations, and Bowser has made it a point to bring tech experts in to help devise new solutions for problems facing the city’s transportation system, snow management and social services.

Sellers, of WDCEP, shared what his economic development organization is doing to help make D.C. a tech hub. Along with a presence at SXSW designed to help keep the city up to date on the tech conversation, the AccelerateDC program offers mentoring that brings together federal and former-federal experts and local entrepreneurs to maximize collaboration and share skills.

Although D.C. isn’t just a federal town, the federal government’s presence has had major implications for the tech industry. Representing that sector was Aiyer, a former Obama White House official, who spoke about the government’s commitment to opening pathways to tech.

“Public and private collaboration is the crown jewel for getting things done,” Aiyer said of the relationship between federal and local tech boosters.

Along with the Small Business Association’s programs designed to help secure funding for private-sector entrepreneurs in underserved communities, Aiyer said, the Patent Office has introduced streamlined services to help small businesses get started.

To close out the event, Berger announced that Social Tables has made a pledge to hold 100 community events in the company’s new 10,000-square-foot office in the next two years. It’s part of the company’s commitment to help make D.C. into a tech destination and to help revitalize the Metro Center area.

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