CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 550 cities and small towns across the country are competing for $5 million courtesy of Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge is a competition among cities to develop, test, and implement innovative ideas and solutions to various city challenges. This year 555 cities entered, representing the highest-ever number of entrants for the Challenge, showing an urgency from city leaders to identify and solve issues.

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North Chicago is one of 555 cities across America taking the steps in hopes to bring $5 million, or a significant, but lesser sum into the city treasury.

“The incredible response to this year’s Challenge really shows how cities are taking the reins to drive our nation forward – and how eager mayors from both parties are to collaborate and try new things,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City, in a statement. “We’re looking forward to seeing the great ideas that cities propose and develop through the Challenge.”

One step of the Challenge for North Chicago is participating in an “Idea Accelerator” workshop. The first 300 cities that signed up for the Challenge partake in these workshops to help identify concerns.

“The cities that have entered the 2017 Mayors Challenge, have the potential to impact millions of citizens,” said Mayor Rockingham, in a statement. “The accelerator workshop will allow us to learn from innovation experts and will inspire us to find creative solutions to the problems we face today; it’s a privilege to be one of the cities to have such a workshop.”

A Bloomberg team sat in on the brainstorming session on Wednesday and helped define what North Chicago’s problem is and how $5 million might help solve it.

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“We are going to be focusing on, maybe, more on the blight within the community and neighborhood stabilization,” said North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham.

Mayor Rockingham knows he’s up against almost two dozen other cities in Illinois alone.

“If you don’t go into the program thinking you’re going to win, you shouldn’t get involved,”he said.

In January, Bloomberg Philanthropies will award 35 “Champion Cities” $100,000 each to assist in solving city issues. This money will give each city the chance to “test and refine” its idea. In October 2018, five Mayors Challenge winners will be selected based on each idea’s vision for tackling an urgent challenge, promise for impact and successful implementation, and potential to spread to other cities, Bloomberg Philanthropies said.

One city will ultimately win the $5 million grand prize. Four others will receive $1 million implementation awards.

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“Hopefully, you know, we will be able to conquer,” Mayor Rockingham said.