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In 2015, the City of Long Beach set out to position itself as Southern California’s innovation enginea city that welcomes, supports, and ultimately exports advancements in technology. The City’s Innovation Team (i-team), funded with the help of Bloomberg Philanthropies, identified a lack of affordable downtown workspace as a challenge for local innovators. The i-team framed these  issues as an opportunity to ask the question: How might the City of Long Beach catalyze a local ecosystem that supports the innovation economy? 

With these goals in mind, Long Beach solicited promising ideas to effectively drive an innovation ecosystem. The i-team distributed a survey to city employees at all levels of government to solicit ideas on this opportunity and convened a Citymart problem-framing workshop. The team went above and beyond to engage residents and the community throughout the process. Long Beach then designed five procurements based on the results of the problem-framing workshop using Citymart’s Opportunity Builder methodology and market intelligence, which allowed the city to better define the problems and the solutions they were seeking.

One of the procurements that resulted from Citymart's collaboration focused on the renewal of Harvey Milk Park, a downtown urban space whose redesign was co-created with the help of residents. The i-team first zeroed in on Harvey Milk Park as part of their efforts to create more collaboration-friendly spaces for local entrepreneurs. The initial concept was to capitalize on the movement toward teleworking to create a free “outdoor co-working space”. But that plan evolved after it was prototyped with residents, leading to a vision for a more inclusive space that was beyond the work and office focus. New features ranging from mobile-device charging stations to public pingpong tables were procured for the park using the Citymart BidSpark process. Rather than seeking pre-specified products, the city put out its first “request for solutions” with Citymart, inviting a range of diverse and creative vendors to demonstrate and demo their products and technologies to residents with no commitment from the city to buy. This allowed locals to test and approve amenities before the city would commit to any particular solution.  

Ultimately, this iterative approach to procurement was a process that allowed Long Beach to make smarter decisions about how to design the park and what to buy for it. It also allowed the city to actively engage and involve end users and residents while focusing on broader urban issues related to public space and inclusivity. What began as a search for more forward-thinking workspaces had a ripple effect across Long Beach's procurement and civic innovation efforts, leading to a solution that has the potential to benefit all of the city's residents.

Continue reading about Long Beach's approach to the Harvey Milk Park renewal on the Bloomberg Philanthropies blog