At a Sept. 30 networking event for development communicators, the crowd was diverse, the gathering informal, and the conversations kept rolling. Public relations officers from government, non-government and the private sectors attended the event jointly organized by Devex and the Millennium Challenge Corp. at the latter's Washington headquarters.
Much of the conversation centered on the the growing financial crisis and its implications for Wall Street, the anticipated congressional "bailout" and the development community. The upcoming U.S. elections were another popular topic of discussion, as the development community waits for policy changes under the upcoming administration. The mood, on both the economy and the elections, seemed cautiously optimistic - first, that some type legislation to aid the struggling economy would pass, and second, that the development community, and in particular MCC, would be able to continue its work under a new administration.
MCC is involved in a number of innovative programs, and excitement about recent successes was palpable. The goal of the MCC, a government-sponsored corporation, is to invest into economies that meet a set of 17 criteria using data provided by external organizations, in the hope that economic development would spur improvements in other sectors. It's a business approach that reflects on MCC's initiator, President George W. Bush, a business school graduate whose picture adorns the walls of this key U.S. donor.
One MCC official praised a Malawi pilot in which business strategies are used to gage development successes. MCC's results-based and data-driven approach, she said, enables the organization - and its partners - to make a strong case for its work to Capitol Hill appropriators and others.