General Assembly Eyeing a D.C. Outpost
Don't look now, but the D.C. tech scene may soon have a big new player in its midst.
General Assembly, a tech training company and incubator with locations around the world, will offer three classes later this month in a pop-up shop at 1630 Connecticut Ave. NW.
But that may just be the first step. General Assembly appears to be testing the waters as it considers a permanent foothold in the District. That'd be a major vote of confidence in D.C.'s slowly burgeoning tech scene, which the Gray administration has worked hard to cultivate.
DJ Saul, chief marketing officer of iStrategyLabs, which is collaborating with GA on its inaugural D.C. effort, says GA could have a permanent D.C. location as soon as "early or mid-2013." It's not likely to be a full campus or incubator at the start, Saul says, but rather just an "outpost," which means "classes/trainings would happen, not co-working and incubation." (Incubators foster the growth of startups by providing resources and support.)
But even that limited function could be significant, given its timing. If, as some officials fear, sequestration leads to far-reaching layoffs among government contractors, a tech training center could help some of those workers move over to D.C.'s tech scene, which of course would be further enhanced by any expansion GA might consider.
GA spokeswoman Angie Lee says she's reluctant to "promise anything we can’t guarantee," but adds, "Our hope is that whatever comes out of this programming will show us the right way to move forward. ... Our goal is to learn from these events what subjects and formats would best serve the startup community before finalizing our permanent entry into DC."
Lee is confident in the city's overall tech efforts. "We think that D.C. has a very strong position in supporting startups," she says.
D.C. officials are excited about the prospect of bringing GA to the District. David Zipper, the Director of Business Development and Strategy for the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, has met with GA and toured its New York facility. "We'd absolutely love to have them in Washington," he says.
GA currently has campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and London, and outposts in Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Sydney, and Melbourne. A new Berlin outpost will begin offering classes this fall, and by the end of the year, GA will have hosted pop-up weekends in Austin and Toronto, in addition to D.C.
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