The announcement that Brookings will partner with Oklahoma City to study the best way to create innovation districts is exciting for several reasons. This partnership offers an opportunity to bolster a district that is ripe with potential. The area stretching from Automobile Alley to the Oklahoma Health Center already has the ingredients to make it a thriving area. It has creative thinkers, entrepreneurial startups and anchor institutions. With the insight of Brookings and the Project for Public Spaces, this area near downtown Oklahoma City will become a more balanced urban enclave of innovation.
The qualities that drive innovation and the creation of innovation districts, according to the report by Brookings entitled “The Rise of Innovation Districts,” include an environment rich with networking assets – “relationships that have the potential to generate, sharpen and accelerate the advancement of ideas.” While that description may not have been written with Oklahoma City in mind, it perfectly describes the synergy that has created what Oklahoma City has today. From the public-private partnerships that have revived areas across Oklahoma City to the entrepreneurial spirit that has created jobs and capital investment, Oklahoma City has created its best assets through relationships that have championed new ideas.
In actuality, the partnership with Brookings and PPS is about more than just one district of Oklahoma City. While the Oklahoma Health Center will be a case study for using public spaces to benefit development, the true benefits of this partnership are much further reaching. We will be able to apply the findings of this study across Oklahoma City. I am confident that this partnership will not only increase innovation in the Oklahoma Health Center, but also create areas of innovation across Oklahoma City.