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In January, the Brookings Institution launched “The Rise of Innovation Districts” study examining the growth of mixed-use communities that combine commercial, residential, educational and start-up culture, where people from all walks of life can collaborate in vibrant settings.
For example, the Brooklyn Navy Yard emphatically illustrates the reurbanization of America’s industrial and warehouse districts.
Dating back to the Civil War, the shipbuilding facility launched vessels ranging from the USS Maine to USS Arizona. The Yard closed down in the 1970s, and for over two decades the massive industrial buildings fell into ruin while destroying the social fabric of Brooklyn.
Today, there are over 6,000 people working in the Yard in industries ranging from fashion to filmmaking. There are many creative venues and companies promoting themselves for offsite group functions, such as Steiner Studios, the largest movie studio in the country outside Hollywood.
“Innovation districts are the manifestation of megatrends altering the location preferences of people and firms and, in the process, reconceiving the very link between economy shaping, place making and social networking,” writes Bruce Katz, founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
In the seven destination case studies in the Brookings report, the DMOs are actively engaged in positioning those districts as knowledge sharing hubs to convention planners.
One of those is the Raleigh-Durham Research Triangle Park, anchored by Duke University, North Carolina State, the University of North Carolina, and 140 high-tech companies including the U.S. headquarters for Lenovo.
“You’re starting to see cities aligning with their academia, their economic development organizations, their private sector, and saying, what can we do in our backyard to showcase to meeting and event planners, beyond restaurants and hotels and attractions, the business community that’s here?” says Loren Gold, executive VP of the Raleigh CVB.
“We’re trying to offer the meeting planner our local connections, and what is a very community partnership-based focus here that we can tap into for event speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and things of that nature.”
Gold adds that companies are still scrutinizing the costs of travel to conventions, so by providing intellectual capital as a drawing card for Raleigh, the DMO is providing additional return on investment to validate the meeting spend.