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December 3, 2008

The New Washington?

Bisnow and award-winning director Karim Chrobog invite readers to a holiday happy hour today at new club Midtown, 1219 Connecticut Ave. Sign up for free! (Karim's award-winning documentary Warchild will be playing Dec 5-11 downtown. Click here to learn more about the movie.)


Yesterday morning, 550 business execs from the trade association, legal, tech, and real estate worlds gathered at our own Bisnow "New Washington" conference for a little crystal ball gazing, to divine what '09 holds for Washington business. The theory behind our event was that the confluence of so many new crises and policy priorities, coupled with the advent of activist government, means a new era of power and influence for the Nation's capital. Thanks to sponsors Patton Boggs, Deloitte, and Qorvis Communications for not only sponsoring, but helping to illuminate the future.


We run this picture to show the mood was not entirely somber as our headline panelists talked about the daunting economy: former Homeland Security Secretary and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, now of Ridge Global LLC, flanked by legendary real estate investor (and Fight Night founder) Joe Robert, and Carlyle Group principal co-founder David Rubenstein. Joe likened the economy to a scene from Mission Impossible where Tom Cruise slides down a skyscraper and the audience is in suspense not knowing when or how he will stop, or if he will somehow be saved. At least David offered good news for JDs, saying lawyers and lobbyists will emerge as big winners from the current crisis, helping clients grab slices of trillion dollar pies.


Patton Boggs MP Stuart Pape gave the legal perspective, saying there's not a firm in town not having conversations with clients about the size of retainers for the new year. While expense cutting is appropriately in vogue, he added that "you can't save your way to prosperity."


Washington legal legend Bill Coleman (88 years young by our calculation), Secretary of Transportation in the Ford Administration, co-author of the Brown v. Board of Education brief in 1954, and the first African-American to serve on the Harvard Law Review (long before a certain President-elect even), poses a question (too sophisticated for us to recount).


Vornado Charles E. Smith president Mitchell Schear (largest owner and manager of office property in the region), National Federation of Independent Business CEO Todd Stottlemyer, and Cardinal Bank of Washington president Kate Carr. Kate, a veteran of many cycles, said she knows recovery is just a matter of time and pointed out that even now her bank is still gladly lending. Todd said the economy means for trade associations that their "value proposition has to be very clear." 


Vornado's Judith Tria, Cardinal Bank's Kathy Speakman, and SAIC's Anna Langen. Kathy says some associations that have come to Cardinal Bank are worried about losing member dues. She says the obvious advice is the best: cut costs, save money, and consult your banker.


Rotarians and Perkins + Will's Steve Manlove, United Bank's Joe Lemense and CreativeWorks' Gary Linowes. Joe says now is the time for associations to go from leasing to owning. He recently helped the Montgomery County Teacher's Union and the Jewish Council for the Aging find new headquarters buildings and believes those deals can still happen today. He advises Associations to "hunker down and hoard your cash."


Human Capital Advisors' Stephen Peck and Woodmark's Bev Williams. Bev says if an Association is looking to move to DC, it can get a good deal on an "office condo" in the NoMa area. Stephen can help associations assess their management team and determine how to retain it.

Anyone still having a holiday party? Invite Association Editor Abraham Mahshie to cover your event, and he promises not to eat too much: Abraham@bisnow.com.

Tradition Homes
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