By Ronica Shannon
Register Sports Writer
Richmond is in the running for up to $5 million in grants from an organization headed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Richmond, along with Lexington and Louisville, are among more than 300 cities across the US competing in the first-ever Mayors Challenge hosted by Bloomberg Philan-thropies.
The competition is geared to identify bold ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life, according to a statement from the organization.
The grand-prize winning city will receive a $5 million innovation prize. Four runner-up cities will receive $1 million each.
Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes said the idea submitted involves using agriculture as a way to promote economic growth.
“How do we use our agricultural resources as an economic engine for our community,” Barnes said. Focusing on locally-grown produce, livestock and other items is a large part of Richmond’s idea to become more sustainable.
Barnes said he would like to see a day “where it would be a prosperous business to grow tomatoes and make an economic impact.”
If awarded, the grant funding would help Richmond learn ways to keep everything produced on a local level circulating within the local region.
“A selection committee will help Bloomberg Philanthropies identify the 20 finalist cities that will advance to the next stage of the competition,” said spokesperson Jessica Anderson.
The ideas generated by these cities were diverse. The two largest categories of ideas were economic development (20 percent) and citizen engagement to spur innovation (20 percent).
Other significant categories include customer service (11 percent), sustainability (10 percent), public health (10 percent) and education (9 percent).
Teams from each of the 20 finalist cities will attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering in New York City in November. At Ideas Camp, city teams will work collaboratively to refine and strengthen their ideas, also benefitting from a range of innovation, program and implementation experts.
“The Mayor Challenge submissions showcase the tremendous depth of talent and level of creativity that exists in cities across the country,” Bloomberg said. “These bold and innovative ideas are the kinds of solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward. Just narrowing the list down to 20 finalists will be a challenge in its own right.”