Innovation District accelerating Oklahoma City’s momentum

Published Tuesday, September 18, 2018
by Cathy O'Connor

Innovation is a powerful word. We often think of it as a new idea or new way of doing something, but when we talk about Oklahoma City’s Innovation District, the word takes on a grander meaning – a place, a catalyst, a convergence of people and ideas.

The planning firm Perkins + Will recently gave an update on its work in creating a land use and strategic development plan for the Oklahoma City Innovation District. Building on the earlier study of the area by the Brookings Institution and Project for Public Spaces, Perkins + Will used a “Convergence Analysis” to measure how this area of Oklahoma City scores on creativity, collaboration, diversity, density and access. Using these metrics, along with the physical location of anchor entities such as the OU Medical Center and the University Research Park, the firm is evaluating where the “epicenter” of the Innovation District might ultimately be. After further study, the next steps are to form recommendations with additional discussion and input from several committees. Perkins + Will plans to present the final plan in the spring of 2019.

Perkins + Will has created similar plans for 34 research and innovation districts. Part of its assessment of Oklahoma City is to compare us to national peer innovation districts such as Capital City in Austin and Cortex in St. Louis. The firm sees Oklahoma City’s distinction and opportunity in our ability to connect and collaborate across industries and existing institutions and develop new partnerships.

These connections will result in additional collaborations, bringing more companies, researchers and investors to our Innovation District. The firm seeks to build upon Oklahoma City’s existing momentum through sustainable efforts such as an innovation ecosystem, diversified economy and a realistic land use strategy.

The Innovation District is also building upon Oklahoma City’s economic development momentum. Recruitment and retention of a high-paying workforce is dependent upon our city being a place where employees want to work, live and play. We have made great strides in improving the livability factor in Oklahoma City, and the thoughtful planning and development of the Innovation District, as well as other areas of our city, will continue that effort.

Cathy O’Connor is the president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

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