Some of the most creative proposals are from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire entrepreneur who intends to use money from his city’s portion of Sandy aid to fund a bevy of contests. Mayor Bloomberg has often used contests as a way to seek out new ideas – such as designing micro-apartments.
This time, the mayor plans to set aside roughly $150 million for Sandy-recovery competitions, including a $5 million “Race to the Top”-style competition that would award grants for the most innovative ideas in making businesses more storm-resistant.
“This, we think, is a way to encourage businesses to try new methodologies and a great opportunity to rethink the way we build,” Bloomberg said in a press conference Wednesday.
Other plans include a $100 million “neighborhood game-changer” competition to spur ideas about attracting businesses to rebuild the economies of hard-hit regions. The contest would award $20 million in grants to each of five “business recovery zones,” including South Queens, South Brooklyn, the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront, lower Manhattan, and the south shore of Staten Island.
“This competition will help jump-start businesses in those areas and help them get back on their feet,” Bloomberg said. “Think of it as seed funding to leverage new and innovative private investment.”
Perhaps the most popular contest among thousands of New Yorkers who were stuck without power for weeks: a contest that would award $40 million in grants to utility companies for innovative ways of boosting resilience during future storms.
“This is a model we’ve used previously for things like green energy,” a Bloomberg deputy said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We ask people to come to us for proposals, test the technology, see which works, then roll those technologies out. We’re looking to do something similar here to address climate change and rebuild in a way that’s resilient and cost-effective.”