Researchers provided exciting report on Oklahoma City's innovation potential

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board  

MUCH has been made, with good reason, of Oklahoma City's blossoming during the past two decades, particularly the resurgence of its once-sleepy downtown. The change has been remarkable, by any measure — and there exists an opportunity for further transformational gains.

This isn't simply a hometown boast. It's the view of experts who spent 18 months studying the potential of the city's innovation district, and came away convinced that great things are possible.

In a report delivered this week, researchers with the Brookings Institution and the Project for Public Spaces said resources already in place — namely, the OU Health Sciences Center and other medical research institutions near the Capitol, General Electric's oil and gas technology center, the oil and gas companies headquartered downtown, and Automobile Alley — provide the linchpins for what could become a globally recognized innovation district.

“Our big message is, you've got something to work with here,” says Bruce Katz with the Brookings Institution, who has spent his career studying and consulting about urban policy issues. His 2013 book “The Metropolitan Revolution” contends that cities are now the vanguard of policy innovation and problem solving.

Katz said he believes Oklahoma City has the potential to replicate what has happened in cities such as Indianapolis and St. Louis. Collaboration involving universities, hospitals, philanthropists, investors and others has made Indianapolis a world leader in biosciences and medical devices; in St. Louis, scores of companies have formed, creating thousands of jobs, in the plant sciences field as a result of a similar effort.

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