Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett was upbeat during Wednesday’s 2016 State of the City address.
Cornett touted a 10 percent decrease in the crime rate, and ran through a number of publications that ranked Oklahoma City as one of the best places in the country to start a business or visit.
“Believe me, there’s a lot of people out there around the country who want to be us,” Cornett said. “We’re a city where income is rising, where unemployment is low, where housing pricing is affordable, and traffic congestion is an occasional inconvenience instead of a daily nightmare.”
Cornett lauded non-profits that helped the city’s arts and music scenes, and that found places to live for homeless veterans. Cornett said Oklahoma City’s economy has diversified to the point that it’s no longer solely dependent on the energy sector.
“The oil and gas industry is 3 percent of our employee base. Now it’s a much larger percentage of our economy because those are higher paying jobs,” Cornett said. “But the idea that we can’t survive a reduction in energy prices is an outdated viewpoint.”
Cornett said the national recognition Oklahoma City has received will provide momentum to carry it into the new year, The Journal Record’s Brian Brus reports:
“2016 figures to have its share of landmark events,” he said, citing development of the American Indian Cultural Center as an example, as well as hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and several other big tourism and sporting events. “It’s going to be a busy year.”
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Cornett only briefly addressed the issue of oil prices affecting the metro area as major energy players and related companies pare down operations. He said the city has a long history of basing its economy on energy – local bank failures in the 1980s triggered a nationwide domino effect – but that has changed as city leaders tried to diversify development. He cited companies such as Boeing, Dell, Hertz and American Fidelity as examples of those efforts.
Cornett also highlighted the opening of the YWCA Thelma Gaylord Emergency Shelter, where victims of domestic violence can seek help. He added that they city will open a Family Justice Center where domestic violence victims can access resources.
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