Innovation District promotes connections

Via The Oklahoman 

By Steve Lackmeyer 

The Oklahoma Health Center is an Oklahoma City economic engine employing 18,000 that has long been overshadowed by the nearby downtown skyline both literally and figuratively.

But a drive through the area reveals a neighborhood institutional in design with little street life and scarce evidence of the array of activity going on inside the buildings — anchors that include a medical school, hospitals, research labs, bio-tech companies, the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics and the Baker Hughes/GE Energy Innovation Center.

Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, sees the proposed MAPS 4 investment of $71 million as being key not just to unlocking the area’s full potential as an innovation district but also connecting it with historically black neighborhoods that for years were kept separate.

“Over the last 50 years with help of the University of Oklahoma and the State of Oklahoma, we’ve built a tremendous academic health center in our city,” Williams said. “And in the last 20 years we’ve taken this center of patient care and research and turned it into a real engine for economic growth.”

The MAPS 4 innovation district proposal is focused on investments highlighted as a first step in a master plan created over the past two years by Chicago-based Perkins & Will.

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