Perspectives

Play. Live. Work.

A case study in the next generation of Live, Work, Play

Technology drives convenience, and community allows for sharing of ideas and experiences. Millennials are being drawn to jobs in urban centers that provide cool and unique services-driven work/live communities. This case study examines MidAmerica Industrial Park’s creative concept of implementing a planned urban development in a rural setting to out-compete big cities for today’s top talent by providing technology-rich housing, modern conveniences, top-notch services, and public spaces all in one location.

The challenge

Using the Four “T”s Approach, a working group has been assembled and a case study developed,  case study prepared in conjunction with Dave Stewart, Lifetime Trustee and Chief Administrative Officer of MidAmerica Industrial Park (the Park), with resources provided by the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), and a group of community leaders, local high school and university educators, and existing companies. The Park, centrally located in the United States, consists of 9,000 acres 40 miles east of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The challenge was simple—how does one make an industrial park cool and how do you compete for jobs from coast to coast (San Francisco to New York City). The following highlights this collaborative approach.

Urban living in rural America

The answer seems to be leveraging what makes a location cool, unique, and appealing to the workforce by adding in all the services, technology, and conveniences anyone could wish for. Who knew that hiking and the great outdoors would have an ever-increasing allure and thus ascend to an even higher level of “cool,” or that we would all be texting and not talking on the phone? In the case of Pryor, Oklahoma, “cool” is the proximity to Tulsa, with its excellent dining and shopping districts; and to Grand Lake, home of world-class bass fishing and outdoor experiences, coupled with several Fortune 500 giants already calling the Park home.

Setting aside space within the Park makes sense if and only if it meets the challenges of “Live, Work, Play.” The prototype discussed below culminates a series of focus groups that included the Park’s own “MidAmerica Delivers” as well as students from five high schools, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, Rogers State University, Northeast Technology Center, community leaders, select local corporations, and senior executives with GRDA and the Park. Current financial modeling is ongoing to gauge the economic viability of such a planned rural/urban development. It is important that, unlike the days of the old company town with its company store, this new development is independently, economically viable and should not be subsidized nor reliant on a single employer. Also, it is directed at bringing together a truly collaborative and unique living experience, with the basis being that life is a journey to be shared with others.

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