Firsthand, real-time engagement helps the Richmond Fed stay in touch with the issues that affect the people, communities and economy of the Fifth District.
Bank leadership — including President Jeff Lacker and First Vice President Sally Green — spent three days getting just that kind of exposure to things that are on the minds of people in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. The Bank held a Regional Forum, May 9-11, to meet and hear from those involved in a range of important topics — from changes in the military to challenges facing minority-owned businesses to the revitalization of urban neighborhoods.
PHOTO BY JIM STRADER
In addition, Lacker gave a speech on the national economic outlook, and the delegation from the Bank talked with representatives of the area's information technology industry and members of Congress.
The Richmond Fed has undertaken similar visits to areas of the Fifth District — Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., North and South Carolina and most of West Virginia — for the last four years.
"This is a way for us to enrich our understanding of the economy of this region," Lacker told the audience at his May 10 speech, by way of explanation. "These visits help us to better understand what's happening on Main Street."
The military plays an important part in the Fifth District economy, with tens of thousands of uniformed and civilian employees and contractors at major bases in North Carolina, the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and the Pentagon in northern Virginia. As the structure of the military changes, communities are gaining and losing military jobs. Richmond Fed leaders visited Marine Corps Base Quantico, which is gaining personnel in the latest changes implemented by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, and Arlington County, Va., which is losing thousands of jobs. The Federal Reserve this year established offices to promote diversity and inclusion, building on long-standing commitments to advance those objectives in the workforce. One of the objectives of that effort is to foster diversity in procurement, which was the subject of a forum the Richmond Fed held with minority business owners and associations.
PHOTO BY JIM STRADER
Communities face challenges when seeking to encourage economic growth. The final day of the Regional Forum included a tour of the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C.'s Columbia Heights neighborhood. Bank leaders learned about the center's role in the revitalization of the neighborhood and about how the center's programs to promote education, the arts, health and sports, among other things, are helping the community.
The Richmond Fed plans a visit in the fall to reach out to another Fifth District community.
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