Mayor Robert Garcia announced Monday that Long Beach has hired its first Innovation Team (i-team) that will “design and implement solutions that improve the lives of residents.” Funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the i-team will be led by Mayor Garcia and City Manager Pat West.
According to the release, the team will function as an in-house research and development unit and move from one city priority to the next. The first of the group's priorities include economic development, job creation and resource leverage (including a focus on the online delivery of city services).
According to the announcement, the City of Long Beach will receive $3 million over three years from the organization. The new i-team includes Innovation Team Director John Keisler (pictured), Innovation Deputy Ryan Murray, Researcher Holly Okonkwo, Programmer Alex Chavez, Innovation Fellows Alma Castro, Eric Romero and Heidi Wiersma and Designmatters Fellow Chase Airmet.
“The City of Long Beach is focused on innovative economic development for the [twenty first] Century," said Mayor Garcia in a statement. "We are honored and grateful to Michael Bloomberg and his team at Bloomberg Philanthropies for providing the resources to put this amazing team together.”
The i-team will also assist the city in developing solutions to improve city services, enhance civic engagement and improve neighborhoods and business districts.
Ninety cities were invited to apply for the grant in August of last year. Meanwhile, Mayor Garcia announced at the State of the City Address that the i-team would play a major role in connecting residents to city services through technology. In addition to the grant, the city will receive implementation support from Bloomberg Philanthropies as well as an opportunity to exchange best practices with peers in other cities.
The innovation team grants are the second round made through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation portfolio, according to the release. The first round of grants were made to the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans. Improvements made included reduced retail vacancies in Memphis, lessening unnecessary ambulance trips to the emergency room in Louisville, cutting down licensing time for new restaurants in Chicago, reducing homelessness in Atlanta and reducing the murder rate in New Orleans.
Above left: Innovation Team Director John Keisler. Photo courtesy of the City of Long Beach.