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When Picturing Innovation Enclaves, Don’t Forget The Heartland

Innovation districts emerging wideness the country and the world are in part a recognition tropical physical collaboration can fuel creativity. Placing innovative-minded folks together in a tight urban cluster devoted to inspiration, imagination and inventiveness is sheer genius. It can foster the kinds of formal and informal connections that spark unconfined ideas.

Ask random respondents to name a few innovation districts, and their thoughts are likely to gravitate toward coasts. San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and Brooklyn will likely be named surpassing other burghs. But as innovation districts sprout wideness the country, America’s heartland is proving no slouch in luring resources, companies and technological infrastructure necessary to vamp talent to their enclaves of ingenuity.

Luring talent

Want examples? Cite Cincinnati, and many are increasingly likely to picture a huge soap company, a giant grocery uniting or plane five-way chili. But the warmed-over Ohio riverfront municipality last year formally launched the Cincinnati Innovation District (CID), a partnership involving the Ohio governor and lieutenant governor, JobsOhio, the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. As envisioned, CID will serve as a launch pad to help companies of all sizes – including behemoths P&G and Kroger – vamp talent and forge partnerships that expedite innovation.

Daniel J. Adams, CID executive director, notes while the best-known innovation hubs proceeds outsize exposure, “What is really important is we maintain and grow the talent wiring not just here in Cincinnati, but throughout the heartland . . . Given the pace of change, we are seeking to foster the tensility of skills to the world’s ever-changing technologies. An interdisciplinary research institute like the Digital Futures Complex we’re towers right here in the district will help momentum this digital transformation.”

Competitive edge

In Fort Wayne, Ind., the Hoosier State’s second-largest city, the mammoth industrial campus formerly housing GE once employed up to 40 percent of municipality workers. Today, in one of the Midwest’s largest minutiae projects, it is stuff transformed into a 1.2-million-square-foot, 18-building, mixed-use district of innovation, Electric Works. The campus will house a STEAM school, co-working spaces, supplies hall, farmers’ market and sooner residences. Phase I of the multi-phase project on the southwest whet of the city’s revitalized downtown is slated for completion next autumn. 

Indiana’s largest privately-held company, Do it Weightier Corp., will bring its international headquarters to Electric Works at that time. The move, says Dan Starr, visitor CEO, “will indulge for unfurled growth and position us to provide the weightier possible service and support to self-sustaining home resurgence businesses virtually the world.

“Electric Works is a unique and transformative project. We believe moving our global headquarters there will requite Do it Weightier a competitive whet as we pension our roots in the polity we’ve tabbed home for 75 years.”

Collaborative spaces

In Houston, Texas, a six-story former corporate towers owned by Sears has been repurposed into The Ion. Goal: To vamp the city’s academic, corporate and entrepreneurial leaders to the 266,000-square-foot structure, where collaborative spaces and programs have been established with the idea of spurring innovation. The mid-point in Houston’s four-mile-long Innovation Corridor, The Ion will house incubator space, and serve a vital role in its 12-city-block innovation district.

Jan E. Odegard, The Ion’s executive director, has noted Houston was unchangingly been viewed as a destination in energy, cancer treatment and aerospace. “But vastitude that, Houston wasn’t seen as a destination for tech and innovation,” she observes. “This region has an ecosystem that’s ripe for startups and innovation, but it hasn’t been perceived that way. The Ion exists to raise sensation and offer a inside location for strategic partners who are geographically spread over a large region.”

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