Mayor's Office of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives


To support the City of Rochester’s Vision Statement and Guiding Principles by expanding the City’s internal capacity for research, data analysis, program evaluation, and resource optimization. The Office seeks to enhance the City’s adaptability by identifying opportunities for collaboration and funding, engaging communities, and leveraging best practices and existing programs that drive growth and maximize impact.


The Office of Innovation envisions a City government that empowers its departments, agencies, businesses, and residents to continually improve. The Office of Innovation envisions a city where resources and communities are seamlessly connected and the government works to ensure an abundance of opportunities and a high quality of life are accessible for all.

Current Focus:

Mayor Warren has directed the Office of Innovation to focus on issues of poverty in Rochester.  More specifically, the Office of Innovation is working on understanding the drivers of poverty - concentrating on joblessness in distressed neighborhoods.  Data analysis , GIS mapping, historical research, and public engagement will help inform initiatives.  The Office of Innovation's poverty work is partnered with the United Way’s Rochester – Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative and other important community efforts.

IBM Smarter Cities Initiative:

The City of Rochester, New York, USA, was one of 16 cities selected to receive a Smarter Cities Challenge® grant from IBM in 2015 as part of IBM’s citizenship efforts to build a Smarter Planet®. During three weeks in October 2015, a team of five IBM experts worked to deliver recommendations on a key challenge identified by Mayor Lovely Warren and her senior leadership team: Design a unified, efficient strategy to establish a “stairway” out of poverty for families currently receiving assistance from several agencies, reviewing key areas that include employment, education, housing and safe neighborhoods.
The work resulted in a report with specific and actionable recommendations for the City and partners to undertake. The report is available for download here: IBM SSC Rochester Report 

Market Driven Community Cooperatives:

The Office of Innovation has also been coordinating a project working to develop worker-owned cooperative businesses as part of a comprehensive wealth building strategy for Rochester. In 2015 the City engaged Democracy Collaborative, a group with extensive expertise from similar work in Cleveland Ohio in connection with the Evergreen Cooperatives and the Greater University Circle Initiative. Democracy Collaborative completed an study in February 2016 that documented incredible potential for the project, a high degree of community support including local Anchor Institution buy-in, as well as several potential business niches future worker-owned businesses. The document also includes an implementation plan to move the project forward in two additional phases.
The report is available for download here: MDCC Feasibility Analysis & Implementation Plan

Contact the Office:

Henry Fitts, Director of Innovation 

City Hall, 30 Church Street, Room 223B

Rochester, NY 14614