Better housing or finding the workers of the future are likely to be the focus of an effort in Independence to come up with innovative ideas that could be used elsewhere across the country.
The city is preparing to submit an entry next month in the 2017 Bloomberg Mayors Challenge, which includes funding to advance winning ideas.
“It’s a big undertaking and certainly not one the city can do alone …” said Mayor Eileen Weir.
Last month, the city convened city staff, school officials, leaders from community service groups and others to kick around the community’s problems and opportunities. Three groups took that discussion a little deeper. Two came back with a focus on workforce development, and one settled on housing.
“So that’s where many of our ideas are coming from,” Weir said.
Workforce development falls in line with what the mayor says is her chief goal in office, raising the city’s median household income to $50,000 a year.
The Mayor’s Challenge, backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, could give the city more resources to work with. Bloomberg Philanthropies is to select 35 “champion cities” in January and award each $100,000 to begin testing their ideas.
That leads to the second round of the competition, and in October 2018 one city wins $5 million to pursue its work further, and four others are awarded $1 million.
Bloomberg Philanthropies is operating off the idea that meaningful innovation happens locally, and it’s looking for proposals that can be applied elsewhere and that can show quantifiable success.
“Bloomberg is very interested in data,” Weir said. “I mean, everything you do has to be backed up with data.”