Macon is one of 394 cities across the country that have entered the Mayors Challenge, a competition that aims to generate innovative ideas to improve city life.
The ideas must solve a major social or economic issue; improve the customer service experience for residents or businesses; enhance accountability, transparency and public engagement; and/or increase government efficiency. The grand prize is $5 million.
The participating cities are from 47 states. In all, 77 of Americas 100 largest cities are taking part, while 58 percent of them have fewer than 100,000 residents, according to a statement from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which is sponsoring the challenge. Cities with 30,000 or more residents were invited to participate.
As cities face increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources, the need for public sector innovation is greater than ever, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, said in a statement. The Mayors Challenge provides a chance for mayors to put forward bold new ideas that improve their communities -- and then spread nationally.
There isnt a lot of time to waste, said Chris Floore, the spokesman for Macon Mayor Robert Reichert. The deadline for entries is next month.
All weve done at this point is express our interest and our excitement to participate, he said.
The next step is to recruit a group of people to help work on Macons entry. They will have to identify a problem that affects everyone, then craft a solution to the problem, Floore said.
Beyond the grand prize, there will also be awards of $1 million to each of four cities.
Participating mayors must submit their ideas by Sept. 14 for a chance to win any of the prizes.
Even if Macon doesnt win one of them, the chance to see how different cities are addressing their problems and learn from their work would benefit Macon, Floore said.
Later this fall, 20 finalists in the competition will be announced. Teams from each of those cities will attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering in New York City where teams will work with collaboratively to improve one anothers ideas. From there, finalists will receive individualized coaching to prepare their ideas for final submission.
Winners will be announced in spring 2013.
To learn more about the Mayors Challenge, visit bloomberg.org/mayorschallenge.