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D.C. Mayor Calls For Technology Investment In State Of The District

Gray takes responsibility for 'missteps' early in administration

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Mayor Vince Gray said in his State of the District speech for 2012 that he wants D.C. to be the technology destination city of the East Coast. 
Mayor Vince Gray said in his State of the District speech for 2012 that he wants D.C. to be the technology destination city of the East Coast. 

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray says the city is at a crossroads.

At his State of the District address last night, the mayor -- while acknowledging the early missteps of his administration -- pledged to prepare D.C. for what he calls the "new economy." Mayor Gray outlined his vision for the city in the speech at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in downtown D.C.

Gray talked about D.C.'s rapidly changing demographics and growing population, but the focus of the nearly hour-long speech was the economic challenges and opportunities that are ahead.

"The 'new economy' must be less reliant on the federal government and less dependent real estate development that too often in the past was ad hoc and reactive," Gray said.

The mayor said he wants D.C. to "double-down" on high-growth, high-demand industries, such as hospitality and healthcare.

"But we must also invest in growing the jobs of the future, especially in the technology sector," Gray said. "In fact, we want to be the tech destination city of the East Coast, a rival to Silicon Valley for talent and fast growing businesses."

To accomplish that, Gray announced several initiatives. He proposed use $50 million to create a technology campus at the former St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Southeast D.C. He also proposed a task force to help reform the city's business regulations so that it's easier for small businesses to grow and cut through red tape.

The mayor also acknowledged the hiring scandals that plagued the early days of his administration, a sharp contrast from his State of the District speech last year, which notably avoided the subject.

"We fell short with a series of missteps early in my administration," says Gray. "I understand why people were disappointed and I take full responsibility for those mistakes."

Gray says the city has enacted stricter ethics laws and is now cracking down on fraud in the District government.

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