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Milwaukee named finalist in urban solution competition


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Milwaukee is one of 20 U.S. cities named as finalists in a national competition to encourage innovative solutions to urban problems.

Over 300 cities entered the contest, sponsored by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Milwaukee’s entry is called “Home Grown.” It involves the use of foreclosed properties to grow and distribute nutritious food to city residents – many of whom do not live near large grocery stores where healthy foods are sold.

The entry says up to 69 percent of Milwaukeeans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

The proposal – submitted by Mayor Tom Barrett – involves the use of empty lots and houses for urban farms, large kitchens, and distribution centers. Entrepreneurs will have a chance to own the properties.

The Victory Garden Initiative won a local contest for the Bloomberg competition. The group’s Gretchen Mead says, “It is important that we reclaim the empty spots of the city and literally plant new life.”

Chicago and St. Paul Minnesota are also among the 20 finalists. They’ll discuss their ideas to a panel in New York early next year.

Barrett says the project will proceed in Milwaukee, whether the city wins the contest or not. The winner will get $5 million to devote to the urban improvement project it submitted.

Four runners-up will get $1 million each. Mayor Bloomberg’s family foundation is putting up the award money.