For more than half a century, anchor institutions, like the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, have contributed significantly to Oklahoma City’s economy through employment, entrepreneurship and innovation.
Through the recent designation of the Innovation District, we have the opportunity to use this kinetic energy to further economic growth. Not by constructing more buildings, but by developing relationships among surrounding communities and across industries.
Anchor institutions are often major employers. The organizations within the Oklahoma City Innovation District employ more than 18,000 people, almost 5 percent of the city’s total. As the demand for health care services increases, so will the need for additional health care workers. Nearly 55 percent of the district jobs do not require a four-year degree in occupations that include medical assistants, respiratory therapists, radiology technicians and emergency medical technologists. By providing workforce training, hiring incentives, and career development for nearby residents, anchor institutions can deepen their employee base by connecting to the communities immediately surrounding them.
Anchor institutions within the district are already innovation drivers. Often, collaborative work in the lab is groundbreaking and viable enough to bring to the market or create a spinoff company that is attractive to investors. A recent example of this is Oklahoma City’s Selexys Pharmaceutical, which sold to Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $665 million.
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