Continuing OKC’s positive trajectory
Oklahoma City is the 22nd-largest metro in the U.S., with more than 1.4 million people who choose to live here. One of the data points that really made our growth over the last decade tangible to me is when, as the assistant city manager, I led the redistricting for our council wards. It was a result of our population growth – 100,000 new residents in a 10-year period, one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country. As I considered how to rebalance the population and new neighborhoods as compactly as possible into the boundaries of our eight wards, I was reminded of the many factors that led to that growth.
Oklahoma City has been voted one of the best large cities to start a business, a top-10 city with the youngest entrepreneurs, and the easiest place to do business. We’re about 31% below the national average for housing costs and we rank No. 2 for first-time homebuyers. But perhaps the simplest explanation for our growth is that people follow jobs, and we’ve done very well in attracting business.
We’ve been intentional about local incentives such as the Strategic Investment Program and tax increment financing combined with federal, state and county incentives to attract businesses. Another factor in our success has been the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, an organization formed in 2011 to combine resources, support and incentives to make a one-stop-shop for developers and businesses looking to start or expand here. We have many successes in Boeing, Amazon, Dell, Kratos, Paycom, Skydweller and others that have brought thousands of new jobs.
Corporate and industrial expansion doesn’t tell the whole story. Over the past 10 years, the Alliance and my predecessor, Cathy O’Connor, have made significant progress on some of our city’s biggest needs: affordable housing, more downtown housing, a grocery store and new development in northeast Oklahoma City, preservation of historic buildings, and support for small businesses to recover from COVID.
As the new president of the Alliance, I’m looking forward to continuing to build the relationships that have been key to our success, being a driving force in identifying what Oklahoma City needs next and casting a vision for how we create that future. As a lifelong resident, I’m excited to see our progress over the next 10 years.