Innovating Oklahoma City, the urban way

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 By: William Crum Source: The Oklahoman

Oklahoma City is riding a national trend of urban areas pressing forward with economic development when state leadership falters.

"More and more metropolitan areas are pulling the state instead of the state pulling the metropolitan areas," said Roy Williams, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

Williams, who heads the city's leading business organization, reported to the city council last week on prospects for re-imagining the medical and research center east of downtown as an innovation district.

The vision is of an active, thriving collection of businesses, educational institutions and research institutes intensely focused on collaboration and entrepreneurship, spinning off ideas and growing jobs.

State government often impedes innovation and economic growth, said Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid.

He said the Legislature "constantly steps on its foot and embarrasses us and creates these headwinds that you have to compete against in retaining and attracting companies here."

"It's a huge challenge," Williams said. "Oklahoma City has kind of taken the track of not relying on the state so much for resources but taking initiatives on its own and doing things by itself.

"Which is more reflective of what's going on nationally," he said. "Selling the metro is a whole lot easier than selling the state."

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