O’Connor: Progress in the Innovation DistrictPublished: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 By: Cathy O'Connor Source: The Journal Record
Two recent milestones in the Innovation District indicate that we are well on our way to creating a premier global destination for innovation in Oklahoma City.
After an extensive national search, Oklahoma City resident Katy Evans Boren has been named president and CEO of Oklahoma City’s Innovation District. Her entrepreneurial experience and legal and governance expertise will help to cast a vision for this area, establish and promote the Innovation District to the world and encourage the collaborations and connections that will define the district.
Boren earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. She has served in private legal practice, at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and as regional vice president of Cox Communications. Most recently, she was chief of the utilities regulation unit in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office. Boren is scheduled to begin her new role July 9.
The second milestone is the kickoff of the creation of a strategic development and land use plan by a talented team led by the planning firm Perkins + Will. This is a critical step in further defining how this important space will look and feel, how it will encourage connections and collaboration among innovation businesses and how it will integrate with area neighborhoods and businesses.
The land use plan will contemplate the ultimate locations for commercial and residential uses that will lead to a more vibrant hub where people can live, work and play. The plan will inform placemaking efforts such as lectures, festivals, recreational activities, food truck activity, pop-up shops and markets.
One key attribute to successful placemaking is accessibility. The plan will indicate how we can improve pedestrian and bike access on key routes between the Health Center and Automobile Alley as well as within the district.
Connection is a theme for the Innovation District. The land use plan will create a blueprint for how we design, create and interact within a connected, vibrant space. Katy Boren’s roots in Oklahoma will no doubt be an asset in attracting and creating human connectivity. She understands and exemplifies Oklahoma values – working together, helping others and welcoming new and better ways. Leadership sets the tone and direction for an organization and we now have an innovative leader to steer the course.
Cathy O’Connor is the president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.