- Cathy O’Connor
10 years of success
Since this is my last column as president of the Alliance, I want to share what I believe has made this organization successful over the past 10 years and offer some advice on continuing our positive trajectory.
Oklahoma City has never been afraid of bold vision. At inception, the Alliance was empowered, and my board of directors has supported, encouraged and at times defended me in identifying and supporting the economic development projects that I believed would be most impactful. Vision and courage are key character qualities for those who bear responsibility for helping to shape the city.
From advocating to transform underutilized space downtown into a 70-acre park and new convention center to identifying and negotiating with Omni to bring their luxury 605-room hotel, the Alliance was a key part of this enormously impactful economic development vision. Scissortail Park, the convention center and hotel are already attracting private development and increasing visitors to the area.
The Alliance, Progress OKC, Urban Renewal, Oklahoma Industries Authority and other entities have worked to improve transparency and inclusion in the development process. During the planning for the growth of the Innovation District, I advocated to include the surrounding neighbors in the conversations and visioning. My team and I have done the same with the Brockway House, South of 8th area and many others. I believe economic development is a partnership among many: public funds and incentives, private companies, developers, investors and the end users. Oklahoma City must continue to solicit participation and communicate about our projects and process with small business owners, residents and those whose lives are entwined with the spaces.
I look back over 10 years and see more successes than I can count here: the new Homeland grocery store in northeast Oklahoma City, the restored Page Woodson, development of affordable housing in Culbertson’s East Highland, the Oklahoma City Small Business Continuity Program that helped small businesses and nonprofits during COVID-19, and many others. All of our successes have one thing in common: a team with incredible heart for the people of Oklahoma City, a tireless work ethic and the desire to embrace new ideas and opportunities.
I count myself very fortunate to have spent my career surrounded by people who value bold vision, look for opportunities to improve inclusion and transparency and pull together as one team. I look forward to seeing what the next 10 years will bring our city.