Part Three: Uptown Innovation Corridor Meets Entire Scope of Brookings Standards for Successful Innovation Districts


Since 2012, The Uptown Consortium (UCI) has led an intense planning and community engagement effort to establish a framework for the Uptown Innovation Corridor—a rare, urban development opportunity in Uptown Cincinnati. Anchored by the University of Cincinnati, UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and TriHealth, Uptown Cincinnati is the region’s center of research and innovation, making it the perfect place for a successful innovation district.

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization, has conducted extensive research on innovation districts throughout the world. Brookings documented 12 principles critical to developing successful innovation districts. To date, UCI has successfully executed the entire assessment into its planning and implementation processes for the Uptown Innovation Corridor. This is the final part of a three-part series detailing UCI’s efforts to implement the 12 principles. The first and second parts of the series were published earlier.

9. Embed the values of diversity and inclusion in all visions, goals, and strategies.

UCI has made economic inclusion a priority in all Uptown Innovation Corridor development decisions from the beginning planning stages. UCI engaged WEB Ventures LLC, a diversity and inclusion consulting group, to support inclusion and job training initiatives around the Uptown Innovation Corridor. To date, WEB Ventures has vetted 350 minority- and women-owned contractors, materials/suppliers and professional service providers for the Corridor.

In addition, UCI works with all Corridor developers to ensure opportunities for neighborhood residents and MBE and WBEs are included in all phases of development from construction to staffing once the project is complete.

10. Get ahead of affordability issues.

UCI recently completed a market intelligence report to analyze the Avondale housing market to create a block-by-block housing strategy for the neighborhood. The goal is to maintain a vibrant and diverse neighborhood that existing residents continue to be proud to call home, while simultaneously welcoming new residents. Moving forward, UCI will continue implementing proactive strategies to address potential affordability issues related to the Corridor’s growth.

11. Innovative finance is fundamental to catalyzing growth.

Funding from the Uptown anchor institutions combined with state and federal resources help create diverse and sustainable financing for UCI and the Uptown Innovation Corridor. UCI has leveraged $158 million in New Markets Tax Credits to help finance several catalytic projects in Uptown. These core tax incentives attracted an additional $129 million in direct investment and $1.39 billion in related investment in the Uptown Cincinnati neighborhoods. As the Corridor continues to develop, UCI will leverage other resources as appropriate to continue the area’s growth.

12. Long-term success demands a collaborative approach to governance.

A bottom-up governance model is critical for the success of an innovation district. This model involves business, academic and civic institution representatives to best utilize the collective in the process. The MLK Corridor Steering Committee was convened in 2013 to help ensure a collaborative approach to decisions in the Corridor. Comprised of over 30 members from the Uptown community, city officials, metro representatives and UCI member institutions, the group meets quarterly. UCI recently re-engaged Sasaki and Landwise for design, placemaking and market analysis work.

Visit the Brookings Institution for more information on the 12 principles to a successful innovation district.