Written by Dick Pryor on Friday June 17, 2011
In what is probably a first for statewide television in Oklahoma, this week's Oklahoma Forum program features a discussion of our state's two largest cities with their mayors, Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City and Dewey Bartlett, Jr. of Tulsa. Make no mistake, the two cities are distinct and different, but they are both showing up in many surveys that rank cities in various factors.
It's true that all is not positive - Oklahoma City was recently ranked the most unfit of all large U.S. Cities in a study by the American College of Sports Medicine. Oklahoma City was dead last out of 50 cities in 2010, too, and this despite efforts by Mayor Cornett to put the city on a diet. Both cities have initiatives to improve the fitness and wellness of their citizens. Tulsa ranks in the top third of cities nationwide that pay most in property taxes.
But, in several economic studies, Oklahoma City and Tulsa are scoring well. Oklahoma's overall business condition ranking is solid, and unemployment is dropping. According to an annual survey by Forbes magazine, Oklahoma City is fourth and Tulsa fifth among all metro areas in the U.S. for home ownership. The magazine cites several factors including low unemployment, the affordability of housing, and a low foreclosure rate for making them attractive to home buyers.
The Business Journals ranks Oklahoma City second and Tulsa sixth in best climate for small business, and the cities are gaining in stature for sports and entertainment. The Oklahoma City Thunder is becoming one of the best teams and model franchises in the National Basketball Association and putting the city in the consciousness of sports fans across America. Tulsa's BOK Center is rated one of the top entertainment venues in the world.
The cities have their special challenges - Tulsa is now looking at changing its form of government and is facing population migration to the suburbs. In the last decade, while Oklahoma City was showing a 15% increase in population, Tulsa recorded a slight decline. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City's "Core to Shore" development that is a significant part of the MAPS 3 project is facing opposition from some on the City Council who believe the opening of the renovated Myriad Gardens makes the Core to Shore park unnecessary.
The program provided an opportunity of these two friendly rivals to sit down and talk about their city's successes and their challenges. And, we get to listen in.
Until next time,
(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Mayor Dewey Bartlett was in our Tulsa studio.)
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