Brookings, PPS continue study of Oklahoma City (The Point)

(from the Chamber's The Point newsletter)

Representatives from the Brookings Institution and Project for Public Spaces recently visited Oklahoma City to update stakeholders on their study of Oklahoma City’s emerging innovation district and to engage the community in the process. 

They also shared an initial assessment of their ongoing audit focused on the innovation district, an 843-acre area that includes the Oklahoma Health Center and Automobile Alley. Their look at the area also included ideas about how to draw surrounding neighborhoods, such as those along Lottie Avenue, into the process and boost them as well.

The 18-month study began last fall and includes an in-depth look at statistics, interviews with about 60 stakeholders, a compilation of its assets and an initial list of strengths and weaknesses.

In his presentation, Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz called OKC’s innovation district an “anchor-based medical district with close proximity to a strong commercial corridor.” It has 1,200 residents,17,900 jobs and substantial momentum, representing 23 percent growth from 2003 to 2013.

Strengths that Brookings found in Oklahoma City include its high concentration of innovation assets; strong alignment between research strengths and cluster employment in many healthcare sectors; highly educated district workforce; proximity to Bricktown and broader downtown Oklahoma City; collegial and collaborative regional culture.

Weaknesses included: the overall low density and disconnect between the health center and Automobile Alley; misalignment between key research strengths and industry sectors; profound racial disparities in social and economic well-being; lack of pedestrian access and “third places” – outside of work and home – for interaction and collaboration.

Brookings saw a lot of potential, though, by making better use of open and underutilized spaces; promoting economic inclusion and diversity; creating more lively public interaction with programs and creative design; and building on the existing OKC culture of collaboration with new partnerships and establishing a governance structure for the district.

“At the end of the day this is only successful if we’re growing businesses, we’re growing jobs, in a way that works for the broader community,” Katz said. 

He suggested that Oklahoma City’s district seems to offer potential for smaller and specific innovation hubs to develop around technology (in Automobile Alley), health and wellness (along 10th and Phillips Avenue), innovation and research (near 8th and Phillips), university (near the Stanton L. Young Walk) and the surrounding neighborhoods (along Lottie Avenue).

Moving forward, Brookings and PPS will investigate priority issue areas this summer; help define a unified vision and strategy with another visit in the fall; and provide ongoing strategic advice, communications assistance and peer learning/networking opportunities. Along the way, they will offer both short- and long-termideas to promote innovation, connection and synergy in the district.

In order to share news about the ongoing study of innovation in Oklahoma City, the Chamber recently launched a website for innovation district updates. Sign up for regular email updates or read more at



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