At the Mayor's Conference in Washington D.C. , NPR's Steve Inskeep catches up with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to find out how his city has insulated itself from the hardships faced by so many peer cities. Mr. Cornett speaks frankly, pointing out that cities need to be able to control their own destiny, especially as state budgets tighten. Rated the most entrepreneurial city in 2009 by the Kaufman Foundation, Cornett explains some of the secrets to Oklahoma City's success:
" we've invested conservatively. We, for the last 20 years, have additional penny sales tax that we've invested in a lot of capital projects and we've improved the quality of life. And so with that increase of quality of life comes this incredible human capital."
As president of the Republican Mayors Association, Cornett describes how the city has been able to convince a largely conservative constituency to agree to tax increases by implementing taxation over only a limited number of years. As each project has come to fruition as promised, the city has easily been able to renew the penny taxation consistently over the course of 20 years. The resulting successes include a sports arenas, river front development, performing arts centers, and, most importantly, a vibrancy within the urban core that is attracting highly educated young people, startups and job creators.
Thanks to Jessica Brent