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I’ve never seen an approach to regionalism in Greater Washington quite like Bob Buchanan’s. It’s methodical, targeted and, for now, mostly covert. And that’s a good thing.

Buchanan, as you’ll recall, is a developer who in 2010 launched The 2030 Group to explore Washington’s future. I lamented at the time that the organization wasn’t really needed.

As data pointed to economic headwinds for the region a couple of years ago, Buchanan got more serious about his effort, enlisting the region’s top economist, Steve Fuller of George Mason University,  to study what Greater Washington’s economy would look like with less federal spending.

It’s been more than a year now, and the effort has mostly been behind the scenes. Fuller used the Cardinal Bank economic summit, where he has spoken for years, to unveil the first tranche of data. The group also paid to publish its work — dubbed the Roadmap for the Washington Region’s Economic Future —in the Business Journal in January.

But the real work is taking place in several “working groups.” As Buchanan says, some are farther along than others, such as the group exploring how to brand our region (starting with selling ourselves about what we are). There’s also an affordable housing group, higher education group and one exploring a regional transportation authority. Last fall, Buchanan, working with Jonathan Aberman of Amplifier Ventures, added another focus — how to develop our entrepreneurial culture. Aberman expects to issue a report…

Read entire article at WashingtonBusinessJournal.com.

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Helped by falling oil prices, airlines are reporting record profits, but for many passengers this sudden bonanza has meant little more than extra bags of free peanuts and pretzels.

The four biggest domestic carriers — American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — together earned about $22 billion in profits last year, a stunning turnaround after a decade of losses, bankruptcies and cutbacks. A big reason for this is the plunging price of jet fuel, which now costs only a third of what it did just two years ago.

But that windfall is only slowly finding its way down the aisles. Days after reporting record profits, for instance, two of the nation’s biggest airlines brought back free snacks in coach.

United said it would begin serving complimentary stroopwafels, which it described as “Dutch-made toasted waffle treats,” and American said it would offer free meals in economy class on flights between Dallas and Hawaii, and free snacks on all domestic flights.

Airfares, however, have remained stubbornly high.

Rick Seaney, co-founder of FareCompare.com, says airfares have been essentially stable for the last two years except on some routes where airlines have faced competition from low-cost carriers like Spirit Airlines.

Analysts say there is little mystery why. A decade of consolidation has reduced the number of airlines competing in many markets, making it easier for dominant carriers to charge more for flights. At Newark Liberty International Airport, for example — where United, which merged with Continental Airlines in 2010, accounts for 70 percent of flights — airfares are the…

Read full article at NewYorkTimes.com.

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SMITH BRAIN TRUST — A new creature has joined the entrepreneurial menagerie of gazelles (fast-growing firms), elephants (like Wal-Mart) and mice (corner barbershops). These are the unicorns — privately held startups such as Uber, Airbnb and Snapchat worth more than $1 billion each. With only 141 in existence, unicorns are the rarest creature of all. And Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman is worried about their health. She recently told CNN Money that many young companies have been able to garner “extraordinary valuations” without actually proving themselves.

“People inside the industry and in the know have been talking about this for at least a year or longer,” says Jonathan Aberman, a 25-year veteran of the venture capital industry and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

He says a market correction is inevitable, but don’t expect a repeat of the dot-com collapse of the 1990s or the subprime mortgage crisis of the past decade. Instead, he describes a process that will unfold in three stages without causing widespread panic. “This will be a slow-motion adjustment,” Aberman says. “This will not be a crash.”

The first two stages already have occurred. What happens next…Read entire article on the Robert H. Smith School of Business site.

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The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced today the newly appointed members of the CIT Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of its parent authority, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority (IEIA).

Appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe are: Jonathan AbermanBernard MustafaMichael Rao.

Full details in CIT November 9 press release.

Since 1985, CIT, a nonprofit corporation, has been Virginia’s primary driver of innovation and entrepreneurship. CIT accelerates the next generation of technology and technology companies through commercialization, capital formation, market development and revenue generation services. To facilitate national innovation leadership and accelerate the rate of technology adoption, CIT creates partnerships between innovative technology start-up companies and advanced technology consumers.

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