University partners with City of Reno in IBM Smarter Cities grant program

Economic development in region to benefit from community collaboration

11/20/2012 - By: Mike Wolterbeek
unr and downtown reno The University is collaborating in a City of Reno project to enhance economic development through a prestigious IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant.

The City of Reno has been selected as one of only 100 recipients of IBM's prestigious Smarter Cities Challenge grant for 2013. Partners in the project include the Governor's Office of Economic Development, University of Nevada, Reno, EDAWN, Desert Research Institute and the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization.

"Being chosen as one of IBM's Smart Cities signals to the rest of the country, and internationally, that Reno is a community ready for knowledge-based economic expansion," Heidi Gansert, special assistant to the president for external affairs at the University of Nevada, Reno, said at the news conference Nov. 14 announcing the Smarter Cities grant. "The University is pleased to be part of the Smart Cities Team and will work with the City of Reno and other partners to help drive the local and statewide economy through workforce development, innovation and research."

The $400,000 grant provides professional consulting and services and will allow Reno to create sophisticated analytics software which will provide citizens and developers complete access to information on properties within the city. Brian Bonnenfant, program manager for the University's Center for Regional Studies in the College of Business, said the spatial fiscal-impact model will allow for quicker turnaround on economic development projects and more informed decisions by city leaders.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to build a system that's important to economic development in the region," Bonnenfant said. "We're thrilled to be involved with this important work. We've worked on projects like this in the past in other communities - and specific projects in Reno - and see the possibilities this grant opens up.

"I see a variety of entities at the University becoming involved, such as the College of Engineering and the College of Science. We've all worked with the city on a number of projects and have a number of resources this project can draw from."

The Reno City Council approved a resolution in August to apply for the IBM grant to "develop a plan for the City, University of Nevada, Reno, and the Desert Research Institute to effectively coordinate economic development opportunities, especially through the implementation of technology commercialization, and thereby stimulate job creation in the City of Reno and the surrounding region."

Read more about IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants.


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