The Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Economic Visioning Challenge (EVC) is an innovative prize competition designed to engage diverse teams to help U.S. cities generate tailored economic development plans. The SC2 EVC is sponsored by the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and administered by three selected cities:
EDA awarded each of the three cities $1 million in 2012 to launch their competitions. In Phase 1, which was completed in December 2014, Greensboro, Hartford, and Las Vegas awarded a total of $300,000 in small prizes for the best preliminary economic development proposals. A total of 143 teams registered across all three cities, and 26 were selected as Phase 2 finalists.
For Phase 2, the 26 finalists built upon their preliminary proposals and presented city judges with detailed and targeted economic development plans. The cities awarded a total of $2.5 million in cash prizes to the teams with the best plans, including a $500,000 cash prize to the first place team in each city.
In May 2015, Hartford announced six winners from among its 10 Phase 2 finalists, awarding a total of $800,000 in cash prizes:
- 1st place: Hartford.Health.Works – $500,000 for a plan to create a healthcare and medical technology cluster
- 2nd place: Made at Swift – $100,000 for a plan to support entrepreneurs and workers in innovative food sector
- 3rd place: Entrepreneurship Foundation, Inc – $75,000 for a plan to create a multi-faceted campaign support entrepreneurship – education, training, investment, etc.
- 4th place: It’s All Here – $50,000 for a plan to create a portal providing resources to entrepreneurs for public/private financing, consumer markets, data analysis
- 5th place: Hartford Rocks – $50,000 for a plan to renovate mixed-use downtown areas
- 6th place: Team FotoFiction – $25,000 for a plan to use shipping containers as inexpensive commercial outlets in underused areas like city parking lots
In June 2015, Las Vegas announced six winners from among its 10 Phase 2 finalists, awarding a total of $800,000 in cash prizes.
- 1st place: Build a Better Las Vegas – $500,000 for a plan to build an Unmanned Aerial & Robotics Resource Center at Cashman Center
- 2nd place: Strain/Stalk – $100,000 for a plan to build a mixed-use Mid-Strip Main Street project
- 3rd place: Gensler – $75,000 for a plan to build a sustainable business center at Cashman Center
- 4th place (tie): Don Alejandro’s Texan Inc, Villa Latina – $50,000 for a plan to build a Hispanic multi-cultural center at Cashman Center
- 4th place (tie): Every Neighborhood Needs an Architect – $50,000 for a plan to redevelop blighted properties in the city’s Redevelopment Area 2
- 5th place: HERServices – $25,000 for a plan to create a “Green Sustainable District” in the city’s Redevelopment Area 2
In August 2015, Greensboro announced six winners from among its six Phase 2 finalists – awarding a total of $900,000 in cash prizes.
- 1st place: Global Opportunities Center – $500,000 for a plan to create a center for universities, firms, and communities to coordinate educational and business goals
- 2nd place: Gig G – $150,000 for a plan to build a publicly-owned gigabit speed fiber optic network
- 3rd place: Gateway University Research Park Testing Center – $100,000 for a plan to build a testing center to support technology firms
- 4th place: Cityfi – $75,000 for a plan to create a city-wide wi-fi network across all neighborhoods and districts
- 5th place: Global Greensboro – $50,000 for a plan to create distinct local economic specializations
- 6th place: Lifelong Learning City – $25,000 for a plan to create the Greensboro Union of Institutions for Learning and Development
The SC2 EVC has generated a lot of excitement, received widespread attention from the media, and attracted talented teams from across the country. The cities will continue to work with the winning teams to implement the best economic development plans and use the plans as the basis for highly competitive grant applications.