A Quick Note on Driving Growth
By Brittany Quick-Warner, CEO of the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
As businesses, we often balance the need for innovation with risk. We weigh the pros and cons when testing out a new product or service, and struggle with how and when to invite experimentation into our teams and workflows. This is no different when we move to innovate in our communities. As community leaders, we must ask ourselves when innovative ideas will foster welcomed change in a way that engages the diversity of our community and leverages shared strengths toward future goals.
With the rise of the Innovation Districts as a viable economic product, driving growth in cities and regions around the globe, it’s important that we begin to ask ourselves these same questions: Does the risk of experimentation and innovation offer us a future that builds a more positive environment for our businesses, neighbors, family and friends? Are we ready to tackle this next opportunity for the growth of our region?
The Brookings Institute has identified what successful innovation districts are and how they function, and has recognized 12 guiding principles that ignite innovation in communities:
If you have spent any amount of time volunteering on committees, collaborating with new initiatives in Eugene, or growing a business, it’s easy to say that we are ready—but we’ve been working on these things for years.
Hot spots like The Barn Light, Perugino, and Claim 52 are just a few places that continue to attract individuals to downtown, allowing for the exchange of ideas and expansion of personal and professional networks. Innovation is happening during those moments. Cultivating those connections is key in spurring innovation and it’s why organizations like the Eugene Chamber, Technology Association of Oregon, RAIN Eugene, our friends from the Food & Beverage industry, and others, focus so heavily on providing events for people to connect with each other and learn about the projects and initiatives in our community.
Those connections can lead to impactful community projects, new businesses, innovative products, or strong industry connections that have a massive impact on our region. Every city has issues that need to be addressed as they continue to grow, and having a space where people are connecting and innovating allow for new solutions to develop quicker.
When you look downtown, you can see the spaces that encourage connections are already flourishing, but when you look ahead, projects like the riverfront redevelopment, 5th Street Market expansion, and UO Knight Campus will continue to build on the framework of an innovation district that will positively impact our region in unimaginable ways. Eugene will become a destination for businesses, employees, and families.
Our community works to cultivate a shared ecosystem where diverse disciplines, perspectives and ways to live and do business thrive. We strive, together, to build programs that engage our community in deeper thinking about how we might want to evolve to build a brighter future.
With events like the FWD Eugene: An Economic Summit, we are engaging in a deeper and more committed way to this new economic driver of innovation. By inviting change-makers into our community, we’re learning the best practices that have helped other regions move beyond challenge toward growth. As we continue to build our renowned tech, scientific discovery, engaging arts, and creative food and beverage communities, we’re strengthening our magnet and staking our claim to innovation. We’re in. Are you?
We want to hear from you. What does our best future look like? Use #ChamberEvolved to share your vision.
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