City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge Yields Six Innovative Comprehensive Economic Development Plans

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SC2GreensboroThe City of Greensboro made history becoming the first city in the United States to award $1 million in a prize challenge for economic development. Joining a select group of cities to administer a prize challenge in collaboration with the federal government (White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, Economic Development Administration), the “Gate City” announced the winner of the competition’s second phase August 17, 2015 Read more and watch the news conference video.

A strategic economic development plan developed by a local team of educators and business professionals was awarded $500,000 for first place in phase two of the City of Greensboro’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Challenge prize competition. Their plan for a Global Opportunities Center was one of six to make the final round of consideration.

The multidisciplinary winning team was the UNCG Office of Research and Economic Development, comprised of professionals from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC A&T State University, Guilford Technical Community College, Bennett College, the NC Small Business and Technology Development Center, and Boundless Impact. The team’s Global Opportunities Center, proposed for downtown Greensboro, would leverage the resources of local colleges and universities, corporations, and community partners by connecting and educating students and businesses in innovative ways that result in new global business and career opportunities.

The award announcement officially concluded phase two of the economic catalyst challenge, which was part of the US Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) SC2 Visioning Challenge Grant the City received in 2012.

The final outcome of the challenge was:

  • Second Place– $150,000 award – Gig G, submitted by Joel Bennett, Larry Cecchini, and Michael Hentschel. Based on the design and development of a public-owned gigabit speed Fiber Optic network for community use. The proposal also includes the formation of a 15-501C Gig-G Social Entrepreneurship Fund business model.
  • Third Place– $100,000 award – Gateway University Research Park Testing Center submitted by Gateway University Research Park representatives. Describes a testing center that would support the primary technological companies/industries of a community.
  • Fourth Place– $75,000 award – Cityfi submitted by Andrew Brod and Roch Smith Jr. Based on a true city-wide Wi-Fi network, the proposal expands public Wi-Fi access beyond the limited range of hot spots in public parks and buildings to locations throughout all of the city’s neighborhoods and business districts.
  • Fifth Place– $50,000 award – Global Greensboro submitted by Mass Economics. Aims to build upon the city’s and region’s assets by creating distinct local economic specializations that are valued and traded nationally and globally.
  • Sixth Place– $25,000 award – Lifelong Learning City submitted by the Merrick Group. Includes a vision that builds upon Greensboro’s unique educational assets and the new downtown university campus to create the Greensboro Union of Institutions for Learning and Development, called GUILD.


Interest in Greensboro’s SC2 prize challenge came from 43 countries, 49 states and 65 cities. In all, 20 strategic economic development proposals entered by multidisciplinary teams in phase one of the challenge were evaluated. The entries covered a range of economic development themes including workforce development, transportation, alternative energy, technology, place-making, and small business development, among others.

The finalists’ plans were reviewed by a separate “Selection Committee” chaired by Assistant City Manger David Parrish (review list of members).

For more information about Greensboro’s economic strengths, visit the Greensboro Partnership for Economic Development.

To learn more about the City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge, visit its SC2 Phase Two Catalyst Website as well as EDA’s website and the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities.

Prince John Gaither-Eli is the Economic Development Project Manager/Prize Administrator for the City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge.

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