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  • Cathy O’Connor

OKC realized huge successes in 2021

While the last two years have had tremendous challenges, we’ve also seen positive transformation and accomplishments in 2021 that will have a lasting impact on Oklahoma City jobs, economic development and quality of life.

Early in the year, we were still administering aid to small businesses and nonprofits through the Small Business Continuity Program to meet basic expenses, maintain payroll and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The total of the three rounds of funding, $37.75 million, beginning in April 2020, was granted, loaned or provided as technical assistance to 1,061 businesses.

The first quarter marked the opening of the debt-free MAPS 3 Oklahoma City Convention Center, bringing a 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall space, additional meeting rooms, ballroom and national attention to our convention business. The 605-room Omni Hotel opened in January with additional ballroom and meeting room space. Combined, the two are expected to add $750 million in economic impact to Oklahoma City over 10 years.

Convergence, the $240 million mixed-use development announced for the Innovation District, will include office space, restaurants, bars, shops and a 107-room hotel. Wheeler Bio, a new pharmaceutical manufacturer, will be the anchor tenant in the building at NE Eighth and Stiles Circle. Convergence will be helped with $13.75 million in tax increment financing and the MAPS 4 Innovation Hall to house startup and support services for innovation businesses.

The Oklahoma Industrial Authority supported the Tinker Air Force Base mission by acquiring 220 acres of land on the east side of Douglas Boulevard for additional missions and to attract private sector jobs. The OIA also compiled a large urban parcel and selected a developer for 577 contiguous acres at I-240 and Eastern for nearly 3.5 million square feet of industrial manufacturing space surrounded by warehouse, office and retail space expected to bring more than 1,000 new jobs to Oklahoma City.

The community celebrated the opening of the new, full-service Homeland grocery store at NE 36th and Lincoln Boulevard in September. This grocery opening is significant because it breaks a barrier; now our residents in northeast Oklahoma City have improved access to fresh groceries, a basic necessity that’s been missing from their neighborhoods for more than 20 years.

This year brought exciting changes, many which will benefit our city for generations to come and next year looks to be an equally transformative year for Oklahoma City.


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