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D.C. close to inking deals to lure Microsoft, Chinese tech firms

Thursday - 12/5/2013, 2:20am  ET

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D.C. is close to luring tech companies from Zhongguancun - 'China's Silicon Valley.' (Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON - Seeking to enhance its technology pedigree, the District is close to signing a deal that would bring a dozen Chinese software firms to the nation's capital.

A separate agreement with Microsoft, headquartered in Redmond, Wash. is also almost done, according to the Washington Business Journal's Michael Neibauer.

Victor Hoskins, the District's deputy mayor for planning and economic development will travel to China next week for the latest in negotiations to bring several international tech companies housed in the Zhongguancun Science Park, or Z-Park to Washington.

"It's huge, it's got 20,000 companies in it," says Neibauer. "What D.C. wants to do is bring some of those software development firms that were started in China to Washington."

Neibauer says the temporary offices would likely be located downtown or in the Shaw neighborhood in Northwest D.C.

The District has been striving to raise its technology visibility in years past.

"Bringing what China describes as 'The Silicon Valley of China' to D.C. would be a coup," says Neibauer, who covers economic development, chambers of commerce, transportation and politics for the Business Journal, which has a news partnership with WTOP.

The prospect of bringing international tech companies to Washington is the latest in promising technology developments for the District.

"D.C. and Microsoft have been talking about establishing the first Microsoft Innovation Center in the United States, on the St. Elizabeths east campus," says Neibauer, referring to the site of the first federally run psychiatric hospital, which fell into disrepair and is now targeted for rehabilitation.

Sealing the Microsoft deal will likely reap benefits for the District and local businesses, says Neibauer.

"Nothing draws other tech companies like something like Microsoft," says Neibauer.

The District, like most large cities, has offered valuable tax breaks to qualifying companies to lure their business.

Neibauer says at this point, it's unclear what incentives the District will offer the Chinese firms.

"D.C. wants Z-Park here badly enough, they will make an offer that maybe Z-Park can't refuse," says Neibauer.

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