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February 10, 2009  
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Big shoutout to new sponsor The Meltzer Group, one of the largest insurance and financial services firms in the region, serving many clients in the real estate community. Also one of the most generous philanthropists; see more below.


These may not immediately seem like real estate pictures, but listening to the Intel CEO this morning at the Economic Club, you couldn't help but think that Washington has never been as important. He came to DC to announce a $7B investment in the next tech revolution ("32-nanometer" chips). He did not announce this at Intel HQ in San Jose, or in New York, or Davos. He chose to do it here.


In other words, Intel CEO Paul Otellini (left, this morning with Carlyle CEO David Rubenstein) evidently sees DC as the center of the world. Friends, not to be parochial, but this has got to be good for this region's economy. Although Paul has run Intel for nearly four years and presided over its highest revenues and earnings in history, he knows they're now in a deep semiconductor downturn. But he quoted predecessor Andy Grove as saying good companies survive during crisis, but great companies improve. He urged everyone to seize this moment to invest, and emerge stronger.


Also this morning, we snapped the new White House social secretary, Desiree Rodgers, a Chicago businesswoman and close friend of the Obamas, who came to meet the local business community. With her, Aspen Institute CEO and Teach for America Chairman (and former head of CNN) Walter Isaacson. Intel says it will underwrite a dialogue with top technologists through the Institute. You should buy stock in podium companies (or more real estate) if crisis keeps bringing so many announcements to Washington.


Is Obama the best thing to happen to DC tourism since the Spy Museum? Yesterday, we stopped by the office of Destination DC's Bill Hanbury who says that the new prez will bring more people to the city, which will mean more development. Bill (looking for a little more room on the wall) tells us that international tourists make up 10% of DC's 16.2M annual visitors, but spend 25% of the $5.5B the city takes in. Obama's pitch for improved international relations, he tells us, could create a serious uptick in visitors in '09.


Good news yesterday: the Convention Center Authority selected underwriters to help finance the new 1,167-room Marriot Marquis. The move keeps the Q1 '12 completion on schedule. Here's the partnership team of Bruce Gudenberg, Alison Rittenberg, Ashley Richards, Bill, and Brendan Barcelo, ready to tell local businesses the news. How'd the WCCA secure financing? They went with a young upstart: Goldman Sachs.


Seyfarth construction attorney David Blake gave us some cautious green building tips yesterday. He says "Coming Soon: LEED Certified Building" signs on work sites could land you in hot water with a pre-leased tenant, considering USGBC certification doesn't occur until after a building is complete. He prefers "Registered with the USGBC." He also recommends "green insurance." Not only will it cover costs to rebuild to environmental standards should disaster strike, but it also allows for a discount on your premiums. A lawyer who saves you money - who knew?


You probably see Alan Meltzer around town a lot. After his 4:30 AM workout in his home gym, he's at appointments all day. We managed one with him in his Bethesda office, where, in its 27th year, The Meltzer Group now has 120 employees selling the likes of life insurance, property and casualty, advanced estate planning, and benefits. They serve over 3,000 individuals and 1500 groups. After a wrestling scholarship to AU, he bought Mr. Henry's in G'Town, Babe's on Wisconsin, and the only bar at AU. Then his girlfriend told him, "Sell those dumps if you want to marry me," and he got into insurance. They've been married ever since, and Mass Mutual has named him Agent of the Year for each of the last 17. Alan says he's in the "people pleasing business," and evidently not just on the commercial side. The firm gave $1.4M to charity last year, an astonishing 6-plus percent of revenue.

If you were a reader of The Scene, you'd know where and why Ben Affleck was talking to Martin Luther King III. You better subscribe (for free, of course) so you don't miss anything else! And one more thing, don't miss The Scene Bisnow's Valentine's party, Friday Feb. 13. Sign up here!

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