Is D.C. the next great tech startup hub?

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Indeed, facing no good options for their daughter bound for middle school, Kantor and her husband recently elected to put their Washington home on the market and relocate to the suburbs, a decision they made with a heavy heart.

"D.C. is going to be great for young people out of college. We're going to lose the middle class," she said. "The school challenge is real."

Zipper, of the deputy mayor's office, acknowledged that the challenges facing the city's schools ripple far beyond education, amplifying Kantor's concern about the impact on the Washington startup community.

"People see this as a social issue, which it is, but it's also an economic-development issue," he said.

At the same time, he pointed out that Washington stands to benefit greatly from a population surge that is seeing an influx of about 1,000 new residents a month, driven by well-educated, upwardly mobile young people. In the tech scene, that stands as a sharp contrast to the dynamics of the region about a decade ago, when the regional industry was concentrated in the Virginia suburb of Tysons Corner, anchored by high-flier AOL, which then made its headquarters there before eventually relocating to New York.

"Let's not take for granted that we have these young people coming in," Zipper said.

The potential of that workforce has not gone unnoticed by entrepreneurs scouting around for a location to base their next tech venture, according to Daniel Doll, president and COO of SoapBox Soaps, a "for-purpose" ecommerce venture that sells soap online and for each bar purchased donates another to needy children in the area and around the world.

"I think people are starting to recognize that D.C. has a ton of untapped talent," Doll said, "that D.C. is not just a community where people have to go to work for the government."

Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for CIO.com.

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This story, "Is D.C. the next great tech startup hub?" was originally published by CIO.

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