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Ellory Monks

Co-Founder of @TheAtlas4Cities. Yes: infrastructure, cities, environment. Also: USMC, real food, women engineers, Rice University. No thanks: running.

Created: Friday, February 8, 2019 | Updated: Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Cities to Participate in Procuring Resilience Workshop: First 4 Announced!

This May, officials from 6 cities and select group of private sector leaders will come together in Detroit, MI to jumpstart action towards upgrading water infrastructure systems at the Procuring Resilience Workshop.

Public-sector innovation is hard, even for big, high-capacity cities. Innovation is even tougher when the subject is something essential to the health and safety of a city, like water infrastructure.

To make innovating easier, city officials need access to tools that generate new ideas, new partners, and new money to implement creative solutions. A number of big cities and counties like AtlantaBostonPhiladelphia, and Prince George’s County have been experimenting with procurement tools — like Requests for Ideas (RFIs), competitions and challenges, and performance contracts — to do just that.

But smaller cities haven’t had the same opportunities to benefit from these tools. Until now.

We’re thrilled to be collaborating with re:focus partners and the U.S. Water Alliance, with the generous support of the Kresge Foundation, to host the Procuring Resilience Workshop. Recognizing the unique challenges, and opportunities, that smaller cities have to try something new, we’re bringing together a group of officials from 6 small- and mid-size cities and a select group of private sector leaders to explore how “big city” procurement tools can be adapted to work in smaller communities. Ultimately, the workshop’s goal is to lay out a path for testing these tools and jumpstarting progress towards upgrading legacy water infrastructure systems.

A collapsed road in Minnesota caused by a flood. PC: Harvard Political Review,
A collapsed road in Minnesota caused by a flood. PC: Harvard Political Review,


In keeping with our mission to bring cities & innovators together to solve gnarly problems, and as a part of our collaboration on this project, The Atlas nominated cities and private sector leaders to participate, and we’re so excited to share the first set of city participants:

Imperial Beach, CA

El Paso, TX

Gary, IN

Camden County Municipal Utilities (CCMUA), NJ

Leaders from some of the world’s most innovative companies and social businesses out to fundamentally reshape our nation’s water infrastructure — like Opti, Emagin and Infrashares — will participate as well.

PC: University of Minnesota,
PC: University of Minnesota,

Keep your eye out for an announcement of the next set of participants (it is truly an incredible group!), and expect more updates over the next few months.

Urban innovation is not easy, and procurement innovation may not seem like the easiest place to start in making it any less challenging.

But in order for cities to buy different (better! smarter! more sustainable!) things, they have to be able to buy things differently.

Innovative procurement tools are designed to do just that…to help cities buy different things differently. And we’re always glad to be helping our partner cities add new tools to their toolboxes.