Open House, Opportunity to Talk Dollars, and Five Cents Bag Tax

Not very often, in the District, are over 19 government agencies in one location under one roof.  In fact, this was the first time for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to host an Economic Cluster Open House. It was held at the Walter E. Convention Center on Thursday.  This free event featured agencies of economic development clusters of the District government. Participants had an opportunity to learn about programs, services, meet agency leadership, ask questions, and more.

Open House & Economic Opportunity

It\’s a great introduction considering government is vast and made up of multiple agencies. All of which provide a specific service for residents in the city. The open house provided business opportunities for new and existing entities. Many took part in the first Open House event. This was much different from any job fair previously held at the Convention center. This event brought out the city\’s most thriving government agencies such as DC Commission on Arts & Humanities, Department of Energy & Environment, and New Communities Initiative, along with many more.

The second hottest agency in the city, DC Housing Authority, has started 2017 off great!  DCHA has embarked upon a new approach by being visible in the community. Staff at the Open House Economic Cluster were readily giving out information pertaining to the housing list. Director Carrington, happily assisted me with my housing waiting list inquiry. Asking questions always help ease any concerns, and after learning the year \”2003\” is currently being managed; not too bad.  It\’s moving at a slow, but steady pace.  Nonetheless, it is a great way for the agency to show the community accountability and progress is being made.

Million dollar & five cent question 

After speaking with a representative about saving a few bucks on light bulbs, the green cloth tote bag with white lettering, and the words \”Save the Anacostia River\” caught my attention, so I seized the moment, and asked the million dollar question. \”What has the bag tax been used for?\”  It was a timely question for Department of Energy & Environment Director, Tommy Wells to answer.

DC Voice: What has the bag tax been used for?

DOEE: Many local organizations such as Watershed society, have provided boat tours for students, churches, and anyone who wants to ride down the Anacostia river and learn what\’s going on.  Trash trap grants, along with providing funds to teach 5th graders in all eight wards, watershed importance.  The agency has hired an Anacostia River specialist to coordinate, and help with more clean-up efforts.  Currently, training provided to the Latin American Youth Center, where 20 young people learn about collecting storm water, along with clean up.  Ward 5 borders the Anacostia river so we are looking to make sure our efforts reach.

It was rewarding to learn that all those $0.05 have been used for great efforts, not so great for a tax deduction, but great enough to educate the community about the river, and keeping it clean.  Currently, a ban has been placed on foam containers in an effort to keep street drains and the Anacostia river clean.  Most restaurants in the city have transitioned to the new rule.  The agency also plans to obtain a legal council to hold people accountable for cleaning up their river waste.

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