City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge: Using A Prize Competition for Economic Development

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SC2StreetSignsIn September 2012, the City of Greensboro was awarded a $1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to administer an “Economic Visioning Challenge,” as part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative. This post describes SC2, the “Challenge,” and Greensboro’s focus areas for economic development.

The Obama Administration’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative was launched in 2011 to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions around the country by enhancing the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies, providing necessary technical assistance and access to federal agency expertise, and creating new public and private sector partnerships.

The SC2 Initiative, is a four-component program designed to change the way the Federal Government engages and supports local governments in their economic development efforts. The initiative operates from an “elicitive” rather than prescriptive approach, with each element of SC2 designed to support selected cities to serve as “community economic development engines” locally, regionally, and nationwide. In recognition of the economic contribution cities like Greensboro provide to these different economic geographies, the initiative “challenges” multidisciplinary teams to develop ideas that utilize the City’s assets in a sustainable way to yield business expansion and job creation. Managed by the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, the four elements of the initiative are:

  • Economic Visioning Challenge: This challenge is an innovative competition that uses a prize model to spur the creation of a comprehensive economic development strategy in selected communities.
  • Community Solution Teams: Teams support the communities’ visions for economic development, help communities more effectively invest existing resources, align federal programs, and facilitate new partnerships and peer learning opportunities wherever possible.
  • National Resource Network: the National Resource Network (the Network) partners with American cities that are rounding the corner from major economic challenges to help them identify and implement new and practical solutions to facilitate their path to economic recovery and growth.
  • SC2 Fellowship Program: the SC2 Fellowship Program provides distressed cities with highly-skilled professionals who work directly with local governments and community nonprofits.

In September 2012, the City of Greensboro was selected as one of three cities to receive a competitive $1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to administer an “Economic Visioning Challenge”. Along with Las Vegas, Nevada and Hartford, Connecticut, Greensboro will utilize a prize competition to “spur” economic development by eliciting locally-oriented, innovative, and feasible ideas to unleash the City’s positive economic potential. Greensboro will be awarding $1 million over the two phases of the prize competition and has sought participation from multidisciplinary teams locally, state-wide, regionally, nationally, and globally. While teams can offer any idea (s) in the form of an implementable plan of their choosing, Greensboro currently has identified six (6) areas of focus for economic development:

  • Capitalizing on local universities and colleges and developing high-impact collaborations between them and the private sector
  • Attracting people, businesses and investments in the downtown area
  • Enhancing the arts and other quality of life features
  • Improving the impact of the Piedmont Triad International Airport and area infrastructure
  • Workforce development
  • Advanced manufacturing

For more information about these building blocks for Greensboro, visit the Greensboro Partnership for Economic Development.

To learn more about the City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge, visit its SC2 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 for the City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge.

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