Did you know that Oklahoma City is primed to be one of the top 15 most prominent cities in the nation over the next decade? At Why Not Oklahoma, we love to celebrate the growth of our great state and highlight some of the efforts that are being made to facilitate that growth. In this article, we will explore what the future of Oklahoma City looks like and some of the remarkable steps the city is taking to propel growth.
The Expansion of Oklahoma City's Economic Landscape
When looking at the economic landscape of Oklahoma City, it is essential to highlight that the state has the lowest employment rate of any metropolitan area in the United States. To combat this problem, the local chamber and city leaders are looking for ways to recruit top talent to the area and restructure how the local workforce functions. As expected, this is expected to take some time and will not be a quick fix.
Workforce development is something that the leaders of Oklahoma City take very seriously. Any time a company is looking to relocate, this is often one of the first things that they want to research on a local level and the available public education systems. To accommodate this need, the city has emphasized its career tech system to expand training needs to diversify the workforce and eliminate any skills gaps.
While oil has been the top industry in Oklahoma historically, the state is also becoming a hub for many aerospace companies. While Tulsa International Airport has done an excellent job at building this sector, Oklahoma City continues to take the steps needed to keep pace – leading to aerospace being an emerging industry that could overtake the energy sector. Tourism facilitates growth in Oklahoma City, so having these frameworks in place is critical for expansion.
MAPS Projects Will Facilitate New Infrastructure Growth
Oklahoma City initially implemented the MAPS program in 1993, after voters chose to help the struggling city by approving new taxes on themselves. Fortunately, this program has had a positive impact. The initial $350 million sales tax was used to revitalize the Downtown area and pave the way for the procurement of an NBA team – the OKC Thunder.
A one-cent sales tax was implemented through the MAPS project, and all of these projects were completed debt-free. The most significant benefit of this approach is that future taxpayers will not be burdened when designated improvements are needed. This pay-as-you-go approach has also improved local schools, parks, sidewalks, and other infrastructure.
Through the modern MAPS initiative, around a billion dollars' worth of projects is being created to dramatically change how the city is perceived. Oklahoma City is seeing tremendous growth in both commercial and residential development. In addition to these projects, highway structures are also expected to change, and the city is poised to become increasingly more diverse over the next decade.
A Renewed Focus on Education and Student Guidance
Although Oklahoma's education system has been scrutinized for low wages, many educational leaders believe that a renewed respect for teachers and the amount of funding they will receive is rising. Oklahoma City Public Schools is making the changes necessary to become a model for urban schools nationwide, focusing more on mental health and wellness opportunities for students, staff, and the community.
OKCPS also plans to focus less on state standardized testing that focuses on a one-time test to allow students the ability to demonstrate proficiency. Paired with a renewed focus on exposing students to diverse life pathways and career opportunities, students will be able to build fundamental skills that benefit them long-term while spending less time with inconsequential activities.
Join the Conversation
At Why Not Oklahoma, we want to hear our readers' thoughts on their communities' current direction and growth opportunities. If you have ideas about what the future of Oklahoma City might look like, we would love to hear them. Please leave a comment below or follow us on Facebook or Instagram to join the conversation!