There are 1,300 Mayors of U.S. Cities with more than 30,000 residents. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is offering $9 million in prizes to these U.S. cities through his charitable foundation (Bloomberg Philanthropies) in a competition for ideas that local governments can use to solve problems.

The contest is called the Mayors Challenge and the deadline for submissions is Sept. 14. The top 20 finalists will visit New York at the philanthropy’s expense for a two day ideas camp, with experts to refine their proposals. The winner will receive $5 million, and four runners-up will each get $1 million.

Bloomberg said in a statement. “The Mayors Challenge creates an opportunity for mayors to champion their boldest ideas and to have them take root locally and perhaps spread nationally.” Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed $24 million to city governments in Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, Louisville and Memphis as part of a three-year program to encourage innovation in city government.

Prizes will be awarded for ideas that show “bold and innovating thinking, a solid implementation plan, high likelihood of creating a measurable impact” and an ability to replicate the program in other cities according to James Anderson, director of the charity’s government-innovation program.

Without a doubt bold and innovative thinking is needed in City governments. I applaud Bloomberg for soliciting and recognizing new ideas that can be replicated in other cities and I am looking forward to seeing the results of this competition.

www.reinventinggov.org