By Mariana Dussan ( | First Posted: Mar 02, 2013 10:50 AM EST

(Photo : Photo/ Vote for Medellin: Most Innovative City of the Year Facebook page)

This Friday, Medellin, Colombia has caught the attention of people all over and, no, not for another drug lord or cartel story. This time, it was for one of the most amazing honors a city could receive, being called the most "Innovative City of the Year!"

According to the project's website, Citibank and the Marketing Services Department of the Wall Street Journal Magazine partnered up in 2012 with the Urban Land Institute in order to determine what city in the world was the most innovative.  In order to find a winner the three organizations held a contest based on a combination of judging from ULI and popular vote. To start, ULI came up with a list of 200 candidates then people were asked to vote, this brought the list down to 25. Again, people were asked to vote and this produced the three finalists: New York City, Tel Aviv and Medellin.

In each city, civic leaders and business executives were asked to create social media initiatives in order to spread the word. The response for Medellin was overwhelming, the site added.

In the past 20 years, the city has worked to change its violent image and at the same time concentrated on improving things like the environment, education, transportation and overall the lives of its 2.5 million inhabitants. Thanks to the local government, businesses, community organizations, and universities Medellin's homicide rate has gone down nearly 80 percent from 1991 to 2010, a statement released by ULI noted.

The city has made huge advances in the transportation system, which include an open air escalator that shuttles citizens from steep mountainside homes to the main part of the city and cuts travel time from more than 2 hours to a few minutes, a new underground metro which has allowed crowed streets to be open to new museums, schools, libraries and cultural centers; a cable car system, and "Bici K" a bike sharing program.

These transportation initiatives have "reduced Medellin's CO2 emissions by 175,000 tons every year," Conrad Egusa, one of City Bank's City of the Year Finalist Entrepreneur Spotlight.

City officials know that this honor doesn't mean that they have reached all of the goals; on the contrary, it means that the progress has just begun. "Medellín's challenges are still many, particularly in housing. However, through innovation and leadership, Medellín has sowed the seeds of transformation, leading to its recognition as a city with potential for long-lasting success," noted the release from ULI.

To learn more about the contest, the city of Medellin and to hear what Mayor Aníbal Gaviria thinks of his city's accomplishment visit, click here.

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