DC Chamber of Commerce Refutes Councilmember Silverman’s Statement on the State of DC Business

The DC Chamber of Commerce is disappointed by the statements made by Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) in this week’s Washington Post article, “D.C. Council’s business measures could be factor in at-large race.”

We have worked diligently with Councilmember Silverman on various issues vital to the business community and our members, but her comments in the article and her characterization of the local business climate were specious.

In the article, the Councilmember asserts that “the sky hasn’t fallen,” and everyone hasn’t moved to neighboring states following a series of new laws that make it harder and costlier to do business here. What should be clarified is that prior to the pandemic, the District began to see a slow trend in residents, businesses, talent, and energy relocating. Once the pandemic hit in March 2020, the outmigration was accelerated.

Specifically, the city lost 23,000 residents to domestic outmigration, the biggest such number since the early 1990s. With remote work taking hold, downtown offices continue to remain empty. According to Kastle data, the share of workers that show up in their offices on a given day is typically under 40 percent. Comparing USPS change-of-address data year-over-year reveals that net domestic outmigration of businesses is six times greater than what we saw in a typical year before the pandemic.

The reality is that the District is now losing residents, businesses, talent and energy to places that offer attractive public amenities at a much lower price tag. Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that a larger share of private sector businesses in D.C. adopted telework, reduced their office space, and moved their offices, compared to the private sector establishments across the entire U.S. The city may appear outwardly healthy to some, but the underlying trends are the dark clouds that portend trouble — even though some of our elected officials are inclined to dismiss them.

“The solution is not to end our ongoing efforts to make the District a more generous, compassionate and equitable home for all our residents,” said Angela Franco, President and CEO, DC Chamber of Commerce. “Rather, we urge Councilmember Silverman and her colleagues to carefully weigh the impact of new legislation that affects the small business community, which is currently struggling to recover from the most devastating pandemic lock-down of a century. If we do not reverse this trend, we risk losing the vibrant, bustling, and diverse businesses in our city that many residents and communities have come to love, enjoy, and depend on for their services and products. We look forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of our members in the days ahead to make DC a welcoming home for business.”

About the DC Chamber of Commerce
The DC Chamber of Commerce is the largest Chamber in the Washington DC region. As an advocate for the DC business community for 83 years, the DC Chamber of Commerce is the voice for businesses in the District of Columbia, proudly serving a diverse membership of more than 1,100 members. For more information, visit https://www.dcchamber.org.

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