By Stacy Martin
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick strode into a midtown luncheon last week rocking a big grin and a confident stride in a trim suit.
Why shouldn’t he? He’s expertly surfing a mother wave of an economic boom the city hasn’t seen in decades.
He is awash in friendly waters filled with a vibrant downtown overhaul, rising city sales receipts, a pro basketball stampede, low joblessness, population growth and the envy of cities across the land.
And he knows it. It was no accident, and it certainly wasn’t all his doing, he told the group of business leaders at the luncheon hosted by Dennis and Brenda Seagroves, Jack Werner and Suzanne Broadbent.
They were hosting a group peopled with leading property-related investors, financiers and related contractors. The Seagroves own Citywide Heating, Air and Refrigeration. Werner helms A to Z Inspections. Both companies are merrily working night and day to keep up with demand, as were the bulk of the audience.
How is this happening while other cities are hanging on during due to a national economic slump?
Representatives from many of those cities travel to Sooner land to ask Cornett exactly that question.
So Cornett, the first mayor elected three times, tells them:
– He’s blessed with a city and county government working in lockstep to accomplish what’s needed when needs arise.
– The rebuilding of Oklahoma City Public Schools’ infrastructure with MAPS for Kids.
– An unprecedented buy-in arose among suburbanites recognizing that a vibrant downtown is essential for the benefit of all. That buy-in was manifested both in MAPS 2 and now, the $800 million, MAPS 3. Sales tax receipts are on target as building and rebuilding is commencing.
After MAPS for Kids, subsequent MAPS projects showed the public “got it” – leverage a penny sales tax to attract private development. “MAPS” is now synonymous with economic growth, prosperity and forward-thinking ideas, such as the cluster of senior health and well-being centers now in planning.
During MAPS 2 and MAPS 3, the city has seen the birth and expansion of Brick town, an overhaul of the city’s once-blighted core, and the rise of a national-class NBA basketball team, a recreational and competitive river, construction of armload of hotels, and conventioneers and tourists to fill them. The list could go on and on.
It’s estimated Americans are retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day thanks to Baby Boomers.
A pleasant silence fell across the room as he concluded sharing the many victories. There were few questions.
It was almost as if you could hear Bob Marley’s voice singing….
“No Worries Be Happy.”