Transportation workforce development to be top priorities for Greater Washington Partnership

Transportation and workforce development will be two early focuses of the Greater Washington Partnership, a coalition of top executives from Baltimore to Richmond, Va., that formed last year to drive economic growth across the region.

In a memo released Thursday, Greater Washington Partnership CEO Jason Miller said the group would throw its weight behind finding solutions to transportation, job creation and retention — issues the group thinks are among the biggest barriers to growth in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

“The Partnership’s formation is a recognition that the leading employers need to consistently be a voice at the table,” Miller said in the memo, “so that working together we can help break down the barriers that hold back solutions.”

The group has yet to identify specific projects or initiatives for moving the needle on those issues, but Miller said he expects to release more details in the coming months about the group’s plans.

Launched in December, the Partnership is an all-star team of some of the most influential executives from the region. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels, T. Rowe Price Group President and CEO Bill Stromberg and MedStar Health CEO Ken Samet are among the group's 17 founding members.

Miller said the purpose of Thursday’s memo was to begin outlining the organization’s driving principles and focus areas.

The group’s overarching goals will be to create a dynamic environment where companies can grow, building an economy that benefits all types of businesses and improving the region’s appeal as a place to live and work.

“When you look under the hood, in terms of economic performance, the region as a whole and each of the metro regions has under performed,” Miller said in an interview. “Part of what we’re doing is measuring progress and is the region moving in the right direction.”

Transportation and workforce development are inextricably linked — how to get to work and how long the commute will be are often key considerations for people deciding whether to relocate for a job, Miller said.

Miller said that the organization’s focus will be on improvements that benefit the entire region, as opposed to local projects.

With regard to transportation, the group will look for ways to better connect the region, improve access and “reduce the growing burdens of getting around,” Miller said.

Job creation and retention initiatives will aim to help local businesses better attract and retain workers with the right skills.

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