Lexington will enter a contest to generate bold ideas that improve city life and address major challenges facing cities, Mayor Jim Gray announced Wednesday.
The competition, sponsored by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, will award a $5 million grand prize and four $1 million prizes to five cities that come up with breakthrough solutions that can be replicated by other communities.
Gray said in a news release that Bloomberg was again showing "he's walking the talk. Putting his own capital to good work." Bloomberg's challenge represents a 21st-century step in the tradition of Andrew Carnegie, who a century ago elevated cities by building hundreds of libraries that improved the lives of countless Americans, Gray said.
He invited Lexington residents to submit ideas by Aug. 1. The city will evaluate the proposals and submit a final idea to Bloomberg by Sept. 14.
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He called it "an invitation to think big, start small and move fast."
Gray visited Bloomberg in 2010, soon after being elected, to look at his open office arrangement. Gray moved the mayor's office from the 12th floor of the Government Center to the first-floor ballroom for more transparency.
Gray recently was invited by Bloomberg to the 2012 Mayors Summit. Fifteen mayors from across the country went to New York to examine the role of cities in restoring America's strength.
The latest effort, called the Mayors Challenge, invited mayors of 1,300 cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit their city's most innovative idea. The idea must improve city life by addressing a major social or economic issue; improve customer service for citizens or businesses; increase government efficiency; or enhance accountability, transparency and public engagement.
Citizens should send ideas in writing to Gray at 200 East Main Street, Lexington, Ky., 40507, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Label letters and emails "Mayors Challenge."