The sprawling compound is a product of Washington’s Gilded Age—a time of lush business profits initially fueled by government outsourcing and war. Some demographers predicted the boom here would ebb as federal spending shrank amid troop withdrawals from the Middle East and efforts to trim the deficit.
Instead, the region has shown surprising resilience, thanks to an economy that has steadily broadened beyond the government. More than a generation of heavy federal spending, it turns out, has provided the seed money for a Washington economy that now operates globally—less tied to the vicissitudes of the capital’s political rhythms.
The new moneyed brain trust is being led by professionals in defense, intelligence and data—many of whom excelled initially due to government ties. They’ve propelled the D.C. region as a leader in the cybersecurity and data sectors, as well as in more-specialized arenas including educational products and health-care data management.