Before I moved to Oklahoma City from San Francisco 20 years ago, I had the cowboys-and-Indians stereotype in the back of my mind. Then when I got here, I was very pleasantly surprised. And I realized that they had the same impressions of someone from San Francisco: They thought I had a surfboard in my garage.
The biggest, most impactful realization was the spirit of the people in Oklahoma City. Once you provide them with a vision and some opportunities, you find that people get behind it.
As an aside, I was here when the bombing occurred, in 1995 -- I'm just a few blocks away from the Oklahoma Memorial. And it was just amazing to see the massive support that just came out immediately, from everywhere, to not only to help anyone involved, but then any kind of request -- whether it was blankets or flashlights, anything. They would have to tell people on the news to stop bringing them.
InterGenetics is a life-sciences company. The basic research began in 1993 at Sam Noble Research Foundation, and then was transferred to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. In 1999, Dr. Don Capra started a predecessor called Prohibitex, which was going to fold and close. In 2002, I took it over and told him not to close the company. InterGenetics started in 2002; the business strategy and raising the capital began that year.
Being located in Oklahoma City definitely allowed InterGenetics to survive. The research laboratories were located in the research park that was owned by the Presbyterian Health Foundation, a nonprofit business. They were able to patiently support us and allow us to defer rent for sustained periods of time while we were able to re-tool the company and get back to profitability. -Alec Foege
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