Palm Coast - The City of Palm Coast has been named a finalist in the 2019 North American Smart Cities Readiness Challenge, which helps cities and states advance their smart cities initiatives.

Five winners to be selected from the 10 finalists will receive a year-long Readiness Program to help turn their smart cities visions into at-scale projects. The winners will be announced in April during Smart Cities Week San Diego.

As a finalist, Palm Coast receives a scholarship to attend Smart Cities Week San Diego. Two staff leading the City's smart city initiatives - IT Director Chuck Burkhart and Head of Innovation and Economic Growth Wynn Newingham - will also present at the conference. Finalists also receive access to the Smart Cities Council's Smart Cities Activator, an online tool to help cities plan, manage, and finance their smart city projects.

"Palm Coast is on a fast-track to becoming a smart city, and we're incredibly pleased to be named as a finalist in the Smart Cities Readiness Challenge," said Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland. "We need to be able to compete in a global market to be successful with our vision for the Innovation District, the expansion of our fiber optic network as an economic development driver, and the use of technology to improve our residents' lives, and being selected for this opportunity will help us advance our priorities."

Palm Coast is in good company on the list of finalists - Baltimore; Dallas; Edmonton; Jersey City, New Jersey; Montgomery, Alabama; Racine, Wisconsin; and regional efforts in San Diego County (Cleantech San Diego), Arizona/New Mexico/Texas and the Mexican state of Chihuahua; and North Florida. The North Florida Smart Region Coalition includes the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, the cities of Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Jacksonville Transportation Authority and more than 100 public and private partners that are collaborating to advance new energy, safety, telecommunications, and health and human services initiatives.

The Smart Cities Council's announcement on Friday described Palm Coast as "a comeback kid kind of city. In the mid-2000s, it was one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. when a recession put a heavy halt to the development of its promising downtown. Ten years later, its new approach and vision, driven by economic opportunities and smart cities principles, has resulted in a new Innovation District that's creating jobs and improving the quality of life for residents."

The City's application highlighted Palm Coast's fresh vision for Town Center - the Innovation District, new economic incentives including the Kick Start program and the Opportunity Zone designation - and how Palm Coast is already using cutting edge technology.

"Innovation districts can be a powerful urban strategy that takes the next step in generating ideas for technological advancement and economic growth," Newingham said. "They allow for open environments where ideas can move freely and talented people can collaborate are key for creating the next big thing in urban and economic growth. Town Center and our Innovation District is in a unique position, as it's truly being created from scratch in a place in an ideal location that already has great infrastructure, low-cost of living with high standards, absolutely stunning scenery less than five miles from the beach, and some key players from the private sector already in place to help tell our story."

Digital city services added in recent years include advanced meter reading and online permitting, and a new Citizen Engagement Platform - giving residents an easy-to-use portal to access City services from their smart phones and tablets - will go live by summer. Streetlights have been converted to LED technology and high-tech solutions for security at City parks and facilities are being employed. The traffic signal optimization program is in its third phase of expansion.

The City is currently expanding its fiber optic network for high-speed internet and data services. A new broadband business plan was finalized last fall, and now the City is seeking a public-private partnership to help expand the network so it's more accessible to residents and businesses - and to help attract high-tech businesses to Palm Coast.

For more information or to schedule an interview with IT Director Chuck Burkhart, contact Cindi Lane, Palm Coast communications & marketing manager, at 386-986-3708 or