State of the state: innovation

Xcel Energy’s $100 million smart-grid system in Boulder and a taxpayer-backed Denver Public Schools initiative that provides incentives to teachers earned Colorado two spots in Fast Company magazine’s “Fast Cities 2010” roundup.

Fast Company singled out 12 cities nationwide in its May issue for embracing innovation: “Constructing the perfect city means blending the best and the boldest ideas from across the nation.”
The magazine noted that corporate giants like Cisco, Microsoft, IBM and Google are working on efforts to transform the power grid into a digital network but that Boulder is the first U.S. city to pilot a large-scale system, one that allows residents to monitor power use and control appliances remotely.

The Denver Public Schools kudos quoted U.S. Senator (and re-election candidate) Michael Bennet, the former head of DPS. “We haven’t changed the way we pay teachers in this country since we had a labor market that discriminated against women,” Bennet told the magazine. Voters approved a $25 million tax increase to pay for ProComp, a program that provides such incentives as bonuses for serving in disadvantaged schools and salary increases for earning advanced degrees.

Other cities celebrated: Dallas (for a new cultural center), Cleveland (for a venture capital initiative), Portland, Ore. (for a farm-fresh foods program), Savannah, Ga., (for a neighborhood redevelopment program), San Francisco ( for “open-source” government), Austin, Texas, (for a car-sharing program), New York (for urban farms), Oakland, Calif., (for zero-emission public transit), Boston (for artist-in-residence housing) and Minneapolis (for its $20 million citywide wireless network).
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