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Colombia city receives international recognition for its innovation

A new award given to Medellin may bring greater Colombia pride among its citizens.

People who send money to Colombia to provide for their families are transferring their money to a country with a city recently deemed the most innovative in the entire world.

In partnership with The Urban Land Institute, global banking firm Citi and business publication The Wall Street Journal declared Medellin, Colombia to be the winner of its annual "City of the Year" competition.

Each year, these organizations field hundreds of thousands of entries from people around the world who submit suggestions for the city they believe to be the most innovative, based on the urban centers that are located in the metro area. The list was narrowed down to 200 cities after organizers for the contest evaluated the various cities' characteristics, such as how efficiently land was used, investments made in economic development, educational successes and human capital investments, infrastructure as well as the potential for future growth.

After much debate, Medellin earned the title, narrowly beating out Tel Aviv and New York City.

Anthony Cenname, publisher of The Wall Street Journal Magazine, said Medellin's recognition as a paragon of innovation and improvement is richly deserved.

"Medellin stands today as an example for many cities around the world, because despite having lived very dark and difficult times 20 years ago, [they] have been undergoing a true metamorphosis," said Cenname. "Going from pain and fear to hope, and now from hope to be a place filled with life, the city has known how to innovate in every step, both in social programs, urban developments or the combination of both and this has been key in the success of this process."

Bernardo Norena, president of Citi Colombia, added that the City of the Year designation does wonders for Medellin's people, as it may encourage more investors to devote their resources toward the city, providing a better life for the country's citizens overall.

Medellin Mayor Anibal Gaviria couldn't be happier about Medellin's coronation, stating recently that the recognition is a "reason for joy on the part of every one of the 2.5 million inhabitants of our city," according to BBC News.

Medellin now seen in more positive light
At one time, Medellin received a considerable amount of press coverage due to having a high crime and drug rate. In 2012, The New York Times published a piece on the annual homicide rate in Medellin, which 20 years ago was 381 for every 100,000 people – one of the highest rates in the world.

But city organizers have been able to deal with the crime issue by implementing sweeping reforms that have enabled officials to crack down on crime and bring a greater sense of safety to the city's 2.7 million inhabitants, according to Census data.

Perhaps the best indication of its safety is how popular the nightlife has become in Medellin. Author and New York Times contributor Henry Alford recently wrote an article about his experience in the metro area that locals like to call "Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera," or the City of the Eternal Spring. He noted that area bars and restaurants were bustling with people, many of whom had their eyes glued to mounted television sets that were showing a soccer game being televised. Similar to what football is in America, soccer is to Colombia, as it's a passion for many of the city's people.

Restaurant dining is similarly popular with eateries like Carmen, Bonuar and Ajiacos y Mondongos providing a variety of local favorites like tripe soup, ajiaco and cazuela con frijoles, or beef with beans.

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