Cortex Innovation Community shows that innovation districts should be ready to adapt their visions over time. We’ve found that such pivoting is vital for enhancing our value proposition by responding to local needs and opportunities, as well as to unfolding events.
Based in St Louis, Missouri, we made our last major shift about ten years ago, when we expanded into more of a community-focused district, away from the initial, more ‘business park’ model that our board of directors had headed towards during the first decade. In the process, we’ve built the amenity-rich, mixed-use, more community-minded district that’s now familiar to many people.
WE’RE SHIFTING AGAIN
This year, we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary. That’s marked by us making another shift, this time in response to the pandemic, and concentrating on building an innovation district that’s focused on equity and inclusion. We want to benefit all the people of St Louis, but primarily those from under-represented communities, including minorities, women and people of color. So, we’re doubling down, mainly through entrepreneurship programs, on helping these communities to participate in what we have going on.
This approach will be strengthened by us working with talent training providers, particularly in cybersecurity and geospatial technologies, but also in general IT and bioscience. These developments aim to make Cortex Innovation Community the go-to place for companies to find the trained talent that they need.
Our latest pivot reflects the tremendous need, across the United States, for talent in these fields. It’s also a response to the tech sectors that have emerged in recent years and, not least, the $2billion investment that the Federal Government has made in St Louis for geospatial intelligence technologies. It makes sense for us to put in a big effort to accommodate the needs of companies in this field as well as those in a variety of virtual technologies, as well as ag tech and defense.
ADJUSTING VISION KEEPS US RELEVANT
Adjusting our vision is important so we stay relevant today to support the needs of our community. Looking back, we can say that Cortex Innovation Community has, in reality, had three distinct eras, with a vision shift occurring every ten years or so. We’re excited to see where this latest move takes us, and where we will be in another ten years.
Beth Letscher is Vice President of Communications & Strategic Planning for Cortex Innovation Community, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.