By Olandan Davenport
Darold Hamlin, 56, a District resident and expert in technology development, is the visionary architect of the “21st century” core strategy of the current master plan to develop St. Elizabeth’s East.
“I believe that technology is the equalizer. Although Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) is the foundation for next generation industries, ownership of that technology is the empowering factor. Ownership closes the wealth gap. As America now looks like the rest of the world demographically, there is no more important mission than to ensure that all communities are economically represented in the tech sector.” said Hamlin.
The District Government’s program plan for the east campus is to have a mixed use mixed income complex. According to the District’s website, the plan is to have 2,000 residential units, 200,000 Square feet of commercial retail, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 500,000 square feet of institutional presence 100,000 square feet of Cultural/Civic space.
At the core, and the driver, of the program is the technology incubator initiative. The District is currently in late stage negotiations with Microsoft, Citelum and a partnership of SmartBIM and Treasury Advisory Services, LLC to determine which, if not all three, will be the company charged with establishing and managing the incubator. In a Washington Business Journal article about the proposed incubator, Ethan Warsh, project manager with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development at that time, was quoted as saying that the three companies were chosen because of their proposals to be an anchor and catalyst ” in the ecosystem we’re trying to create there.”
“The redevelopment of the east campus of Saint Elizabeth’s will have a far reaching impact on Ward 8. It is the major economic development project for Ward 8 at this time and will bring housing and business opportunities….” wrote Arrington Dixon, 70, a former DC City Councilman and current Chair of the Anacostia Coordinating Committee, in a recent public email. His statement reflects the view of all the stakeholders to the project.
A report published by consultants from Carnegie Mellon University and associated with a White House task force of 15 Federal agencies indicated that the east campus should be the base of a Regional Innovation Cluster (RIC), focusing on defense industry related activity located, in part, on the west campus. The report includes an analysis of the strategic need to provide business and employment opportunities to the local community as part of developing the RIC.
In fact, the Federal and District teams from the east and west campuses are coordinating their development efforts to create a synergistic relationship between the two campuses.
However, City officials have been vague and secretive about the negotiations with the finalists for the technology incubator. It is not clear whether the finalists even have the legally required 20 percent CBE equity partners. If CBE’s and the Black community do not participate in the technology incubator, it would defeat the purpose of the significant effort Hamlin, and his organization, the Emerging Technology Consortium (ETC), have made to move the District government in its current direction.
“The Ward 8 Technology Council can and wants to be more involved concerning its interest in participating in the process, ” said Dr. Daanen Strachan, 47, a member of the Council. He added that Mr. Hamlin “has been at the front of the movement to develop a technology based economy in DC.” The Council is made up of CBE’s, individuals and organizations interested in technology development.
Hamlin’s effort to develop technology based activity in Washington, DC started in 2005. That year, “We drafted a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for Washington DC, and gave it to the city for its consideration.” said Hamlin. “In that strategy, we focused on the development of a technology based economy in the District to challenge the tech based activity along the I. 270 corridor in Maryland and the technology corridor in Northern Virginia.” He added.
In 2006, Hamlin drafted for Chairman Linda Cropp the Bill that would become The Emerging Technology Opportunity Act of 2007 “To increase commercial activity in the District of Columbia in emerging technology.” stated the Bill. “Darold was the principal writer of the legislation, and he helped me to understand better the true opportunity for the city.” said Ms. Cropp.
In 2009, the ETC completed the DC Incubator Study for the DC Economic Partnership. The ETC conducted a District Innovation and Research Park Study that assessed the feasibility of developing a collaborative university research park located in or near underserved communities in the District of Columbia.
In 2009, the ETC submitted a MOU to study the feasibility of a research park in Anacostia or near an underserved communities’ to spurn economic development across the City and diversify the District’s economy for the new century, including but not limited to a financing strategy.
In 2010, the ETC submitted comments for Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for Washington DC which specifically recommended “the establishment of a technology business incubator at the St. Elizabeth’s Campus as a priority project.” The money used to pay the consultants associated with the White House was made possible by the CEDS application that the ETC had helped get completed.
Mr. Hamlin is a founding partner of the Emerging Technology Consortium (ETC) which is a group of companies and individuals dedicated to ensuring the benefits of technology reach all communities. He is also a Senior Executive for Logistics Systems Incorporated. a Federal consulting firm located in the Washington DC Metro Area. Prior to starting these entrepreneurial ventures, he served as a Chief Information Officer for both the City of Philadelphia and the Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority in Atlanta. He is a retired military officer who served as a Chief Information Officer and Technology Program Manager for the United States Army Reserves and Professor of Military Science and Departmental Chair at Fordham University in New York City.