Oklahoma City’s innovation district to be focus of Brookings study
OKLAHOMA CITY (October 14, 2015) – The Brookings Institution and Project for Public Spaces have begun an 18-month study of Oklahoma City’s emerging innovation district, an area encompassing the Oklahoma Health Center and Automobile Alley. This work, which will focus on the district’s economic strengths’ and quality of place, is part of the Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking, a joint initiative the two organizations launched last week.
The study will examine the rising interplay between innovation, quality places and economic growth by studying innovation districts in Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. The work aims to catalyze a new approach to city-building that integrates the reinforcing benefits of vibrant public spaces, innovative urban economies and inclusive growth.
“Oklahoma City is an innovative community, and Brookings and PPS’s study will allow us to continue to realize and capitalize on our assets,” said Roy H. Williams, CCE, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “The continued growth of Oklahoma City’s medical center and the surrounding areas will bolster the economy and strengthen the bonds of collaboration. And equally important, the lessons learned during this project will be applicable to other areas of Oklahoma City.”
The Bass Initiative will build on Brookings’s research on innovation districts — dense, amenity-rich enclaves that are typically anchored by R&D institutions and facilitate new ideas and businesses — and PPS’s long track record in placemaking, a participatory community process to develop quality public spaces by capitalizing on a community’s assets and potential. It will encourage mixed-use entrepreneurial and cultural districts through research, network building, and on-the-ground projects, including studies of the innovation ecosystems.
“Oklahoma City has systems in place that support an innovating community, but there is room for growth,” said Tom R. Gray, III, president of the Presbyterian Health Foundation. “As the world continues to evolve, we have to evolve with it. Working with these entities will help us understand how to continue our forward momentum.”
The initiative’s Oklahoma City study will use quantitative analysis of both local and national data as well as stakeholder interviews to audit the innovative industries and networking and physical assets in the burgeoning innovation district. Drawing from this study, Brookings and PPS will work with community leaders to create a unified vision and specific strategies for the district’s future growth in order to bolster the district as a key driver of the regional economy.
“As the epicenter of research, health care, education and technology in the state of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation recognizes this district’s potential for growth,” said David Harlow, chairman of the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation board of directors. “We believe that engaged local partnerships and creative problem solving are the keys to increasing our innovation. Brookings and PPS bring a perspective to the table that will help us get to where we need to be.”
The Oklahoma City study is funded through a partnership of community organizations including the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Presbyterian Health Foundation, the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation, the City of Oklahoma City and the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City. Additional community supporters include the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and the University of Oklahoma.
“We have the potential to enhance this area to attract more innovation, more investment and more qualified workers,” said Cathy O’Connor, president and CEO of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City. “Using these resources in this district and across the city will impact our ability to attract new companies and employees to all areas of Oklahoma City.”