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Got a $5 million idea for Lexington?

Lexington will enter a new competition for U.S. cities to generate breakthrough solutions that address major challenges and improve city life, Mayor Jim Gray said Wednesday.

Bloomberg Philanthropies will award one $5 million grand prize and four $1 million prizes to the five cities that put forth the boldest and most replicable ideas, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said as he announced his Mayors Challenge program.

"Mayor Bloomberg is again showing he's walking the talk. Putting his own capital to good work. And it represents a remarkable 21st Century step in the tradition of Andrew Carnegie, who a century ago elevated cities across America by building thousands of libraries – 1,689 in this country – that lifted the spirits and lives of countless Americans.” In Lexington itself, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning remains a living example of the investment Carnegie made here in 1906.

Gray invited Lexington citizens to submit ideas by August 1. The city will evaluate the proposals and submit a final idea to Bloomberg by Sept. 14.

“This is a chance for Lexington to take another exciting step forward in building our Great American City. It’s an invitation to think big, start small and move fast,” said Gray, who visited Bloomberg in 2010, just after he became Lexington’s Mayor, and recently attended the 2012 Mayor’s Summit, in which Bloomberg invited a group of 15 Mayors from across the country to New York to examine the role of cities in restoring America’s strength.

The Mayors Challenge invites the mayors of 1,300 U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit their city’s boldest idea. The innovative idea must improve city life by addressing a major social or economic issue, improving the customer service experience for citizens or businesses, increasing government efficiency, and/or enhancing accountability, transparency, and public engagement.

“Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources,” Bloomberg said. “Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward. The Mayors Challenge creates an opportunity for mayors to champion their boldest ideas – and to have them take root locally and perhaps spread nationally.”

Lexington citizens should submit their ideas by writing Mayor Gray at 200 E. Main St., Lexington, KY, 40507, or via e-mail at Mayor@lexingtonky.gov. Please label letters and email “Mayors Challenge.”

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