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February 10, 2014

City dangles $900K cash for economic-growth ideas

The City of Hartford has embraced an innovative contest format, with cash prizes totaling $900,000, to spur pros and novices to advance its vision of economic development via entrepreneurship.

Hartford is one of only three cities chosen through a competitive process to participate in the Obama administration’s “Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative” (SC2), officials say.

The other cities are Las Vegas and Greensboro, N.C.

The SC2 Hartford Challenge is inviting qualified teams to develop a transformative economic development plan — one establishing Hartford as “The City for Entrepreneurs,’’ officials say.

According to Thomas E. Deller, the city’s director of development services, which encompasses economic development, the winning plans must be detailed, feasible and sustainable. They also must include comprehensive strategies to attract, assist and retain first-time and serial entrepreneurs, as well as stage-two companies that want to grow.

Deller said this “open, fair and transparent” format reflects the city’s innovative approach to stirring the best ideas.

“Rather than hiring a firm to develop the economic development plan,’’ he said, “SC2 Hartford is inviting people who would not otherwise participate in a government procurement solicitation -- those who aren’t afraid to think big and who see challenges as opportunities. We believe these multidisciplinary teams will bring new perspectives to an entrenched set of problems.”

SC2 Hartford has two phases. During Phase l, qualified teams will form and submit proposals. A panel consisting of community leaders will review the proposals. The top three proposals will receive cash prizes of $60,000 (1st place), $30,000 (2nd place) and $10,000 (3rd place).

They, and other selected finalists, will advance to Phase ll, further developing their proposals into detailed, actionable plans. The winning finalists will receive the following cash awards:

1st place: $500,000

2nd place: $100,000

3rd place: $ 75,000

4th place: $ 50,000

5th place: $ 50,000

6th place: $ 25,000

Registration deadline is July 24, 2014. Phase l proposals are due September 22, 2014. To register and to get more information, visit

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