Unable to innovate on its own, the Peoria City Council hires a ‘chief innovation officer’

Really? I thought we elected city council members to come up with ideas:

Peoria – The City of Peoria has selected Anthony Corso to serve as its first Chief Innovation Officer (CIO).  Mr. Corso will be responsible for spearheading Peoria’s Innovation Team, or “i-team.”  The Peoria i-team is made possible with a three year, $1.5 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Peoria was one of fourteen cities selected in December 2014 as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams program. The program aims to improve the capacity of cities to effectively design and implement new approaches that improve citizens’ lives. Grant funds allow cities to hire and fund i-teams for up to three years. These teams function as in-house innovation consultants, moving from one community priority to the next. Using Bloomberg Philanthropies’ tested Innovation Delivery approach, i-teams will help community leaders and staff go through a data-driven process to assess problems, generate responsive new interventions, develop partnerships, and deliver measurable results.

Mr. Corso and his team will work side-by-side with City staff, elected officials, community groups and other stakeholders to help solve some of Peoria’s most difficult and complex problems.  As part of the grant process, the City identified an initial problem set for the i-team to help tackle.  Peoria needs to address its “combined sewer” problem, a condition that periodically pollutes the Illinois River.  Correcting defects in the environmental infrastructure, though literally below the surface of the city, is one of the most imperative challenges we face.  This is a massive community undertaking with an equally large cost.  Since the combined sewer area is also the oldest and poorest part of the community, the Peoria i-team will take a broad look at this issue, exploring and developing strategies that improve water quality while simultaneously improving community outcomes: more jobs, greater investment, lower crime.

Mr. Corso has spent his career as an architect, urban designer, consultant and educator, working to make communities more livable and resilient.  Since returning to his hometown of Peoria in 2009, Anthony has worked as an architect providing design and consulting services to public and private clients, served as program director at Illinois Central College and represented Central Illinois on the board of the US Green Building Council Illinois chapter.  He also founded and hosts Green Drinks Peoria, a monthly conversation on sustainability topics.  His first official day as Chief Innovation Officer is April 7, 2015.  Hiring for the two Project Managers continues with the intention of the full team being in place by the end of April.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million. For more information on the philanthropy, please visit bloomberg.org or follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.

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