St. Paul and Duluth ideas move ahead in $5 million Knight challenge to make cities more vibrant

Five St. Paul proposals and two from Duluth have made the first cut in the Knight Cities Challenge, which will invest $5 million in selected ideas to make cities more vibrant places to live and work.

The challenge received 7,000 submissions in the first of three years; organizers have cut the list down to 126 finalists. The winners will be announced in the spring.

The ideas must benefit one of the 26 cities around the country where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers.  St. Paul and Duluth are among them.

The finalists selected focus on these aspects of improving a city’s vibrancy:

  • Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep the best and brightest
  • Opportunity: Ideas that expand economic prospects and break down divides
  •  Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement

The St. Paul finalists are:

  • 4 Play by Greater MSP (Submitted by Peter Frosch): Changing the way people perceive the city and its climate by inviting all residents to come together for an outdoor activity — whether it’s ice fishing or summer canoeing — once each season.
  • 8-80 Vitality Fellow by Mayor’s Office, City of St. Paul (Submitted by Mayor Chris Coleman): Promoting a livable St. Paul by embedding a fellow in the city who ensures that walking, biking and public spaces are a priority in all city projects.
  • MSPassport by Greater MSP (Submitted by Peter Frosch): Enticing former residents to move back to the city by creating an app filled with reasons to return, plus employment and civic opportunities.
  • MN Nice Breakers (Submitted by Jun-Li Wang): Making the city more welcoming by creating a series of events to introduce newcomers to the city so they can quickly establish social networks.
  • Rolling Out the Warm Welcome Hat (Submitted by Jun-Li Wang): Welcoming newcomers by having city leaders hold a ceremony for them each month and providing them with a welcome gift in the form of a warm hat for Minnesota winters.

The Duluth finalists are:

  • The St. Louis River: One River, Many Stories by University of Minnesota, Duluth (Submitted by John Hatcher): Igniting community conversation by inviting local news sources to dedicate one month of coverage to the St. Louis River and its environmental issues, history and economic opportunities.
  • WESTuary Park (Submitted by Peter Stauduhar): Transforming a former industrial site on Duluth’s waterfront into a new public park.

The Knight Foundation will commit $15 million to the challenge over three years.

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