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Mayor Gray announces Digital DC initiative and $1 million in funding to startups

Mayor Vincent Gray cuts the ribbon at WeWork Wonderbread Factory after announcing the Digital District initiative

Mayor Vince Gray tonight announced $1 million in grants is available to companies that locate within the boundaries of a new "tech corridor" that runs along 7th Street NW from the DC convention center to the former Walter Reed Medical Center on Georgia Avenue.

The money is available as part of the city's new Digital DC initiative, a branding campaign designed to establish D.C. as "the largest technology center on the east coast."

Gray officially made the announcement at the ribbon-cutting for WeWork DC in Shaw, a new coworking space that is opening two locations (the other is in Chinatown).

Early-stage companies that move to the tech corridor, which is situated on four metro stops, are eligible for grants from between $25,000 and $250,000.

The corridor is intended to link new tech businesses with the existing tech hub in Chinatown, and the forthcoming "innovation center" at St. Elizabeths in Ward 8. Signed up at St. Es so far, Gray confirmed, are Microsoft, Citelum, a French company that specializes in lighting, and SmartBIM, a building intelligence company.

The Digital DC initiative also comes with the launch of a new website, DigitalDC.co, which will highlight tech events, show off D.C.'s "brightest and most successful entrepreneurs," and help techies find jobs at D.C.'s startups. "It will provide the best resources to help [startups] grow," Gray said. "It will supply job and training opportunities."

Branding D.C. as the largest tech center on the east coast will not be easy, Gray said, but he then looked around at the 33,000-square-foot coworking space. "That is an ambitious goal, but when you look at what's going on here you will recognize that it's eminently doable."

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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