Mayor Bloomberg: Compete For The (Sandy Relief) Gold

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Last week, we reported on the first numbers coming from City Hall on just how we're gonna spend the $1.77 billion allotted to us by Washington for initial Sandy recovery efforts. Those figures showed that the money would basically be split into three main categories: housing redevelopment ($720 million), infrastructure improvement ($140 million) and, most importantly for this story, local business revival ($185 million).

The Mayor had two plans on the economic front. First, City Hall would hand out 'resiliency funds' to get downed companies back on their feet, which covers $40 million or so. Second, the remaining $145 million would go towards competitive bidding - a private sector option that has proven to be Mayor Bloomberg's economic planning go-to. We witnessed this move with the Roosevelt Island applied science school competition, the MTA app contest and those damn "micro-unit" apartments.

And, now, we're seeing this same gesture play out with Sandy relief money. Although the targeted millons is fragile to those in distress, the main gist of the proposed competitions aims to answer a worthwhile question: what will we do when the next Sandy hits?

There will be three competitions for these potential treasure chests of cash. And here's how they're gonna play out:

- The first contest is worth $5 million. Applicants will vie to create blueprints that provide businesses with new, storm-resistant technologies. So, the next time around, we won't need millions to save companies that suffered at the hands of natural disaster.

- The second contest is worth $40 million. Utility companies are invited to test out their ideas on how to make sure things like this never happen again. We're looking at you, LIPA.

- The third contest is worth $100 million. The largest chunk of competitive bidding money will be given to entrepreneurial efforts in still-recovering areas, like the Rockaways and Red Hook. According to the Mayor, the hefty reward will hopefully spark economic activity in areas that seriously need it the most.

With these three contests in place, Mayor Bloomberg will become the first official in the country to spend the federal disaster relief monies in this format. And that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Best of luck to the competitors - the City will be on standby.

[jsurico15@gmail.com/@JSuricz]

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