OK Gazette: Imagination, innovation, GE Global Research Center fits right in at OKC’s developing innovation district

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Albert Einstein’s words are displayed inside newly opened GE Global Research Oil and Gas Technology Center, a $125 million facility that opened last week in Oklahoma City.

The modern, 95,000-square-foot research and development center overlooks downtown Oklahoma City and the skyscrapers home to well-known oil and natural gas companies. The building is decorated with the words of some of history’s greatest inventors as well as the multibusiness company’s technology past and future efforts in the industry.

The beautifications match the promises of GE leaders and the more than 100 research scientists, engineers and technicians working at the company’s 10th research facility and the first designated for the oil industry. The center will become the home of breakthroughs, company leaders said, as staffs work to solve some of the industry’s largest challenges. It was the message touted by Lorenzo Simonelli, GE Oil & Gas president and CEO, during an Oct. 5 opening ceremony.

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The districts are believed to spur technology developments, create a community of inclusiveness and build sustainable economic development, according to Katz and Wagner. The two said innovation districts must expand beyond employment options and offer buildings with a mix of uses: housing, office and retail. Strong public transit and walkability play crucial roles in the success of innovation districts.

Last fall, the Brookings Institute and Project for Public Spaces began an 18-month study of Oklahoma City’s Innovation District. The results of the study, which will examine the district’s economic strengths and quality of life offerings, are believed to provide the momentum for moving the district forward. The study is backed by the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative for Innovation and Placemaking and has garnered support from a number of local organizations, including the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

In September, 2015, Roy Williams, chamber president and CEO, shared with the Oklahoma City Council that the study would be “extremely important” and further shape the district’s development by establishing plans for integrating housing, recreation and transit.

“We are trying to create more places where people can live, work, play and learn in one location,” Williams said at the time.

Right fit

Oklahoma City’s innovation district is already an epicenter for research, health care, education and technology. The GE research center adds to the district’s growing reputation.

Read the entire article at okgazette.com.

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