Examples of innovation are everywhere

Published Wednesday, April 29, 2020
by Cathy O'Connor

In a time marked by significant change and uncertainty, it is encouraging to look around at the examples of innovation. Oklahomans are incredibly responsive to challenges, and every day I hear stories of how businesses have changed the way they provide goods and services and even their manufacturing focus, to protect and help others.

Prairie Wolf Spirits pivoted from distilling vodka to making hand sanitizer. The co-owner, Erik Tekell, is a biochemist by training and when he heard of the shortages of hand sanitizer, he realized he had the base ingredients at the ready. The company has been making thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer since early March and working hard to try to meet an overwhelming demand of orders. They are selling everything from 4-ounce bottles to 275-gallon barrels, all while giving away 1-ounce bottles to serve community health.

Baker Hughes, an energy technology company, is using its Oklahoma City and Claremore facilities to create protective equipment and ventilator parts to help Oklahoma hospitals. The company has retasked its 3D printers to make thousands of face shields and other protective gear for health care workers on the front lines.

Many restaurants have adapted by adding curbside pickup and some are getting more creative with specials and packages. The Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau keeps an up-to-date list of restaurants and coffee shops offering curbside and to-go: https://www.visitokc.com/support-okc/restaurants.

The City Box is a new service that packages several restaurants or retailers into brunch, date night and other packages and delivers them to your door. We’re clearly missing our favorite experiences and places; the Festival of the Arts Box with a festival T-shirt, art kit and several tastings from favorite food vendors sold out quickly.

Another example of adapting in order to continue helping others is A Chance to Change, a nonprofit counseling and recovery service. The mental health professionals have developed a mental health toolkit, available at no charge on their website so that anyone can access resources and tips to avoid social isolation, manage parenting during the crisis or learn what to do if they feel overwhelmed.

It gives me hope to see how our city has come together to help each other. These characteristics of how we respond with optimism and innovation are at the core of what makes us so resilient.

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

Read the story on JournalRecord.com.

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