Waymaker Team

Dennis Lower

Innovation Community Strategies

Dennis Lower helps corporations, universities, and cities who wish to pursue local and regional urban, technology-based economic development strategies. His approach involves leveraging regional assets, place-making, and innovation programming to create vibrant entrepreneurial communities that attract startups and established technology companies who seek to change the world through the creative talents of their people and products. His areas of expertise include mixed-use master planning, real estate structuring and development, business plan development, incubator/accelerator planning, co-working and shared office space planning, centers of excellence, regional coalition building, public/private partnerships, public incentives, equity and inclusion, and district sustainability planning. For 25 years, Mr. Lower has been involved in developing urban innovation districts that position regions to be competitive in the global technology economy.

From 2010 to 2020, Mr. Lower was the first President and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community in the historic Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. The district was founded by three major universities, the region’s largest healthcare provider, and a global plant science non-profit. The 200-acre initiative involved transforming a tired, largely abandoned industrial zone into a nationally and globally recognized innovation district that is now home to 425 companies. During his Cortex tenure, Mr. Lower was responsible for nearly three million square feet of completed and under construction development that supports 8,500 direct technology-related jobs that annually produce over $2 billion of regional economic output.

For the decade prior, he served as Vice President of Planning & Development for the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana and Director of InterTech Science Park. InterTech is a 300-acre urban redevelopment initiative sponsored by a coalition of nine regional higher education institutions, the City, County, State and Chamber of Commerce. While there, Mr. Lower was responsible for developing two wet lab incubator/accelerators, a cleanroom diagnostics manufacturing facility, and the headquarters relocation of a pharma/cosmetics corporation. Under Louisiana Governors Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco, Mr. Lower served as Chair of the statewide Louisiana Economic Development Council.

Prior to Louisiana, Mr. Lower served as the founding Executive Director of University Heights Science Park in Newark, New Jersey, that was sponsored by four higher education institutions; the Acting Executive Director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in Atlantic City; and the Founding Executive Director of the National Shared Housing Resource Center in Philadelphia.

Mr. Lower serves on the boards of the St. Louis PBS Nine Network, St. Louis Contractor Loan Fund, Venture Café St. Louis, the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, and as a Steering Committee member of the Global Institute on Innovation Districts headquartered in Basil Switzerland. In 2018, he was named as the FOCUS St. Louis Leadership Award recipient given annually to individuals who demonstrate regional leadership, meaningful impact in the community, and strong community engagement. In 2019, he received the 2019 Mayor’s Award at the City of St. Louis’ Business Awards Celebration. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy degree and a Master of Divinity degree.

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