“In the mid-to-late 1980s, Oklahoma City was mired in an extended economic crisis, the result of a decline in the region’s core energy businesses and damage to the region’s banking and real estate sectors from the savings and loan meltdown. The region’s downtown area was hit especially hard, since the legacy of classic urban-renewal policy had accelerated the hollowing-out of the urban core. By 1988, Oklahoma City councilman I. G. Purser declared: “Downtown is dead and we helped kill it. There is no major retail, no major attraction and no place to eat” (Lackmeyer and Money 2006, i). Since the early 1990s, however, Oklahoma City has experienced a remarkable turnaround. While the tailwinds of an energy boom in the 2000s are an important part of the story, the path forward has been led by a spirit of collaboration partly rooted in strong regional integration. What makes the story more interesting is that the commitment to this public sector-led redevelopment effort has been headed by four successive Republican mayors and a conservative Chamber of Commerce, while the additional taxes have been supported by a majority of voters in a region that consistently votes overwhelmingly Republican. Oklahoma City’s experience suggests how a commitment to place can help leaders move beyond ideology and toward a more sustainable and shared growth trajectory. It shows the potential for overcoming major economic challenges through collaborative regional efforts that bring together diverse interests, knowledge, and values.
“—Excerpt from Chapter 5 of Equity, Growth, and Community
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The authors wish to extend a special thanks to the persons and organizations listed below. Follow the links to learn more about them.