OKC Mayor Mick Cornett Talks Diet and Design

On Metropolis P.O.V., Jared Green interviews Mayor Mick Cornett to uncover the keys to Oklahoma City's surprising success.

2 minute read

August 10, 2012, 1:00 PM PDT

By jerinbrent

Now in his third term as Mayor, Mick Cornett, admits that Oklahoma City has not always been the kind of place you wanted to show off to visitors. "The decade of the 1980s was just a horrible time in the state of Oklahoma and a pretty gloomy time in Oklahoma City," Cornett says. An entire generation of leadership was lost to Texas and coastal cities when they couldn't, or didn't want to, find jobs in Oklahoma City.

Improvements began in the 1990's, when the region passed a limited penny tax to finance the MAPS Initiative (Metropolitan Area Projects). The original goal was to improve the quality of life for existing residents, but 20 years later Oklahoma City finds itself attracting new business and residents. People from California, Texas and the east coast are finding their way to OKC, Cornett says. "Now we're attracting that human capital. That's going to be the key to economic development because no longer do people follow jobs. Jobs follow people. We're succeeding now because we're attracting the top human capital available."

Cornett credits Oklahoma City's ongoing success, simply, with increasly high standards. Standards for health (he famously put OKC on a diet in 2007), standards for landscape and design, and standards for business. Describing the city's efforts to improve walkability and create vibrant public spaces, Cornett points out:

"When the city developed higher standards...what you see is that the businesses in the community want to reflect those standards or maybe even exceed them. So it feeds on itself. When you have a city of low standards you're going to have businesses that exude that same quality."

Thanks to Jessica Brent

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 in Metropolis

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Close-up of electric stove range with front burners red-hot.

California Cities Suspend Natural Gas Bans Following Court Ruling

A Ninth Circuit court ruling forced Berkeley to reverse its ban on natural gas in new buildings, prompting other cities to suspend their own efforts to promote all-electric buildings.

May 28, 2024 - East Bay Times

Colorful vacant, boarded-up two-story rowhouses in East Baltimore, Maryland.

States Move to Limit ‘Squatters’ Rights’

A wave of new legislation targets people who reside illegally in properties they don’t own.

25 minutes ago - Smart Cities Dive

BART heavy rail train on elevated track pulling into Concord, CA station with cloudy sky and trees in background.

Bay Area Transit Projects Awarded $18 Million

The funding supports eight ‘near-term’ projects slated for completion within the next one to three years.

May 29 - Contra Costa Herald

Silver UTA On Demand transit van in Utah.

Utah On-Demand Transit Hits 1 Million Rides

The service connects outlying communities with fixed-route transit lines.

May 29 - Utah Transit Authority

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.