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About the Challenge

The best way to understand the City of Greensboro is from its official website. And, the best way to understand the SC2 Challenge is by registering to participate in the challenge and then getting involved with your team. The information below offers broad guidance, and in some cases, offers opportunities to test drive the tools you and others will use. Our intent is to describe a process of participation that is transparent, open and fair.

However, it is important for you to begin by understanding the Rules that govern this SC2 Challenge. They are an extension of the Terms & Conditions that you accept by using this website. You will have opportunities to meet other participants attempting to solve the same or similar problems, and you are required to conduct yourself appropriately. By entering the SC2 Challenge, you are joining a community of citizens who are all working towards better conditions for participating Cities.


SC2 Initiative


Greensboro’s Big Picture

The Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative began as a federal program to strengthen local government across the country by helping develop strategies for economic growth. Through a competitive process, select Cities receive vital resources to support job creation and improve local conditions.

We know that effective economic development planning requires fresh thinking, leadership and citizen engagement. So, the SC2 Challenge was born.

The SC2 Challenge represents a new approach to government. Rather than hiring a firm to develop a plan, participating Cities like Greensboro are partnering with you.

For Greensboro, the main concern is that this once-thriving manufacturing city now needs to do something to retain and attract younger, technologically savvy professionals to its fold to restructure its economy.

You and your proposal for Greensboro may be the mortar that helps cement these ‘building blocks’ of the City’s future:

  • Capitalizing on local universities and colleges and developing high-impact collaborations between them and the private sector
  • Attracting people, businesses and investments in the downtown area
  • Enhancing the arts and other quality of life features
  • Improving the impact of the Piedmont Triad International Airport and area infrastructure
  • Workforce development
  • Advanced manufacturing

Learn more about Greensboro’s plans and projects to help you create the right mix of ideas on which the City can build.

For updates and breaking news regarding the SC2 Initiative and this SC2 Challenge, please visit our PRESS page.

Start A Team


To win the competition, you must apply as a multi-disciplinary team, consisting of more than one individual. Invite your most talented friends and colleagues to join a multidisciplinary team. We encourage experts who may not typically work in economic planning, but who offer disciplined ways of thinking about local issues.

Then, register to participate in the challenge. By registering, you agree to comply with specific Terms & Conditions and Rules governing each prize competition. Once you have registered, you will develop your own user profile and will submit your Proposal to us via this website.

Next, put together your team. Research indicates that prize competitions are more likely to produce results when a wide variety of disciplines are involved, particularly those not typically associated with the target problem. In other words, you stand a better chance of winning when you invite team members who do not ordinarily focus their attention on economic planning, but who offer specific experience and skills that may transfer from one field to another. Start thinking of who you want to invite; who may understand what it takes to deliver a local, feasible and innovative solution for the city.

“Nominate" colleagues to join your team. After you've activated your user profile, chat with team members, join discussion threads, and find other ways to communicate your needs. One objective of the SC2 Challenge is to foster a strong sense of community so you become part of a team of solvers, people who are dedicated to competing and collaborating.

To see examples of active communication among team participants, please visit our FORUMS, where you can read about key topics, witness teams answering questions, and learn more about what's happening on any given day.

Build Your Plan


Develop a detailed proposal that includes a discrete project representing a strategic approach and showcasing your team’s talent. The goal is to be selected as a finalist in the SC2 Challenge and then to develop and submit a more comprehensive plan.

The SC2 Challenge includes multiple participating Cities. You may only join one team per City (see Rules). While each City requires you to develop a customized solution based on its local needs – learn more about Greensboro’s – all prize competitions use the same framework. You and your team will develop concepts that comply with standard instructions and you will be judged by experts using a common scoring tool (see below). As you will see, the framework provides you with enough flexibility to develop your most creative and ambitious solutions.

This SC2 Challenge offers two-phases of the prize competition:

  • In the first phase, your team will submit one economic development proposal (Proposal) to Greensboro's Evaluation Panel members. Your Proposal must meet specific criteria and formatting requirements, as defined by the instructions (see below). Once you have submitted your Proposal, staff from the City of Greensboro will review each one, to determine if it is complete (the Administrative Review); if it does not comply with all of the instructions, then those incomplete Proposals will be excluded from the scoring process. Each complete Proposal will include a detailed Project that embodies your strategic approach. The purpose of including a specific Project is to showcase your talent for being concrete and pragmatic; so, you must include budgets, timelines, projected returns on the proposed investment and measurable impact. Think short-term and long-range. Judges from the Evaluation Panel will rank the Proposals, identifying up to three winning teams who will receive cash prizes. Then, a group of Finalists (including all three phase one winners) will be invited to participate in the second phase. So, while Greensboro will provide cash rewards for up to three winners, additional teams may be selected to advance to the second phase. In any case, every team that submits a complete Proposal will receive detailed feedback from the Judges, to ensure that every effort is rewarded with serious consideration from credible experts.

    Phase One prizes are:

    • 1st place:       $55,000
    • 2nd place:      $35,000
    • 3rd place:       $10,000
  • In the second phase, those Finalists will expand upon their Proposals by developing a more comprehensive economic development plan (Plan). Requirements for final Plan submissions will include community engagement and other deeper considerations not required in the Proposal writing process (see below). An effective Plan will provide actionable goals and objectives in the context of a deeper analysis of local, state, regional, national, and global trends. Plans will focus on requirements that lead to implementation. A separate Selection Committee will determine the final rankings of winning teams who will receive final cash prizes. The Selection Committee, chosen by and including an assistant city manager, is a combination of city staff and community leaders. The Selection Committee will be comprised of four (4) individuals. Finalists will receive detailed feedback after each Plan has been scored. The members of the Selection Committee are planned to be announced by the end of October 2014.

    Phase Two prizes are:

    • 1st place:       $500,000
    • 2nd place:      $150,000
    • 3rd place:       $100,000
    • 4th place:       $ 75,000
    • 5th place:       $ 50,000
    • 6th place:       $ 25,000

Here are the directions to submit a Proposal and Plan. Also, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) has provided a set of Planning tips, to showcase key elements of effective strategies. These documents, both for Phase One and Phase Two, are available to you today, to ensure that you have every opportunity to understand Greensboro's expectations and to see what is required to deliver the best possible final product:


You have the opportunity to spend more than fifteen (15) months focusing on Greensboro's needs. Here is the detailed timeline with key deadlines and phases, so that you may better coordinate your effort:

You are provided the first eight (8) months to develop your Proposal. However, you must register your team within the first six (6) months. The registration deadline allows prize administrators to calculate the need for any additional judges over the remaining two (2) months, to ensure that everyone will receive sufficient attention and feedback. After the deadline for submitting Proposals, Greensboro staff will review each Proposal, to ensure that it complies with the instructions before distributing those complete Proposals to members of the Evaluation Panel, who will spend one (1) month or more reading, commenting on and scoring all of the Proposals. At the end of that process, the top three (3) teams will be eligible for cash prizes. Also, each team will have the opportunity to see what the Judges had to say about their work. From the top ranking teams, a group of Finalists will advance to Phase Two. Those Finalists will spend five (5) months developing more comprehensive Plans. During that process, members of the Selection Committee may invite the Finalists to present their working concepts and can coordinate opportunities to interact with each team (e.g., interviews, presentations, public roundtables, etc.). Following the deadline for submitting Plans, a Selection Committee will spend one (1) month scoring the final results. They will use the same scoring tools as the Evaluation Panel, a copy of which is available here for your review. At the close of the final judging period, up to six winners will be announced.

Any requests for winning teams to participate in one or more awards ceremonies will be scheduled separately.

Help Our City


All complete Proposals and Plans will be forwarded to a panel of local community leaders and authorities who will use the same framework for judging your ideas to ensure fair treatment for everyone.

The SC2 Challenge is powered by citizens. In Greensboro, local authorities and highly credible officials have volunteered their time and talent to your review proposed solutions. Learn more about who they are.

You may only submit one Proposal (per team). Please make it your best work. If you are invited to participate in the second phase, you will then submit one Plan. Every Proposal or Plan must comply with the instructions, and Greensboro staff will review every Proposal and Plan to ensure that it is complete (see above). The Judges will use a common scoring tool to rate your submission(s). To provide absolute clarity for how judges will consider your submission(s), you may test drive the scoring tool here.

The purpose of this tool is to ensure that you understand the specific instructions and requirements expected of each Judge. Again, Greensboro wants to provide you with complete transparency so you can develop your Proposal and Plan to match the scoring criteria. Please spend some time reviewing how the criteria are defined. (LOCAL, FEASIBLE & INNOVATIVE)

(0 - 5)
Does the Proposal/Plan take into account local economic conditions, focusing on existing and potential competitive advantages, in its recommended solutions? Is the Proposal/Plan expected to result in direct economic benefits to the city and its surrounding area? Does the Proposal/Plan identify local assets, economic strengths and weaknesses, and describe how the city can leverage assets and strengths to result in economic benefits?
Failed to recognize any unique conditions in the City; recommendations could have applied to anywhere...Paid basic attention to general conditions but not based on any specific City need. Recognized local conditions and demonstrated an understanding of the economic climate.Paid attention to specific City needs and focused on targeted economic issues.Grounded by a detailed understanding of the needs of the City and its people.


(0 - 5)
Can the Proposal/Plan yield practical and concrete results in a realistic timeframe that justify the level of required investment, addressing likely obstacles, such as resources available to the city? Does the Proposal/Plan identify economic development strategies that are achievable using existing city resources, or propose ways in which the city can utilize nonexisting/currently unidentified resources to implement these economic development strategies? Does the Proposal/Plan outline a timeline by which the city can develop actionable strategies to implement the ideal contained in the Proposal/Plan?
Misguided by an optimistic understanding of obstacles and underestimated the effort required to deliver results.Addressed basic obstacles to general recommendations but not with specific or realistic tasks.Demonstrated a realistic and efficient level of effort and attention to detail.Addressed specific obstacles with recommendations tied to detailed, measurable and cost effective tasks.Guided by practical and concrete recommendations; considered timing, funding, return on investment and measureable outcomes.


(0 - 5)
Is the Proposal/Plan offering a fresh and forward-looking approach that will lead to a clear set of strategically-aligned goals that other economic development initiatives have failed to deliver? Are the ideas and strategies submitted in the Proposal/Plan duplicative of existing plans or strategies being utilized by the city? Does the Proposal/Plan outlay strategies that propose to utilize city resources in more effective and efficient ways to realize the city's economic development goals?
Promoted style over substance or lacked new and original methods with not enough practical thinking.Raised novel and interesting concepts but failed to tie approach to clear outcomes.Delivered new and different methods with focus on concrete goals and improving outcomes. Raised creative and new ideas that offer a clear roadmap to improved conditions.Introduced ground breaking and advanced thinking that exceeds the promise of any previous approach.


Judges are asked to consider only those submissions with local, feasible and innovative traits. Those labels are clearly defined through a series of questions that each judge is asked to consider, and as they rate your submission they are provided even more specific direction for what defines a particular range of scores for a particular trait. For example, if a judge is considering a score of 3.2 for the trait Feasible, then he or she agrees that your proposed solutions… "addressed specific obstacles with recommendations tied to detailed, measurable and cost effective tasks." Understanding the common scoring tool will help you consider those definitions when developing your Proposal and Plan.

Each submission will receive five (5) reviews from separately assigned Judges. Specific members of the Evaluation Panel, who are assigned to judge your Proposal, will be anonymous, but – if you are invited to the second round – each member of the Selection Committee, who will review each Plan, will be identified. To ensure that every team is treated fairly, the members of the Evaluation Panel assigned to review your Proposal will be randomly selected. Once they are assigned to your Proposal, they will designate a score for each trait and provide an explanation for each score. Your team will receive the scores and explanations from each judge at the end of the first round. If you are invited to participate in the second round, then you will receive the scores and explanations assigned to your Plan from each Judge, as well.

We realize there may be an advantage to a Proposal if it is randomly assigned five (5) easy Judges, while others may object to judges who are prone to assigning low scores. To account for biases, scores from each Judge are "statistically normalized." Through a mathematical process, we are ensuring that everyone receives fair treatment. To learn more about how the normalization process works, please read our overview here.

Finally, we would like to remind you that Terms & Conditions governing your use of this website and participation in this SC2 Challenge stipulate important Rules for each prize competition. By registering, you have agreed to provide an unconditional license for use of any ideas submitted in a Proposal and Plan that receive a cash award. While this SC2 Challenge is designed to declare many winners for helping Greensboro, it is also designed to ensure that Greensboro can benefit from a range of ideas. So, while Greensboro may celebrate a first place winner, it is within its discretion to pursue any of the many Proposals, Projects and Plans that are rewarded at any point. In fact, each winner may help shape a different aspect of Greensboro's investment strategy. If you find that others may have exceeded your ranking, please know that your ideas may still have an important impact not reflected in the amount of your cash prize.