Oklahoma City Leaving a Good Impression on America's Mayors
By Stan Miller, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City is hosting the United States Conference of Mayors this week, and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said he knows visitors will leave with a whole new perspective of the city.
Hundreds of the nation's mayors are attending the conference in downtown Oklahoma City.
They are slated to discuss the economy, job creation, immigration, energy efficiency, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the growing number of vacant and abandoned properties in America's cities, high speed rail and education reform.
Cornett said it is an honor to host the conference in Oklahoma City.
"It puts us in a select group of cities," Cornett said. "These are decisions makers and policy makers that will likely go back and report back on the time they had in Oklahoma City, and we intend to exceed their expectations."
For years, Cornett has been lobbying to bring the Mayor's conference to Oklahoma City, painting a picture of progress and prosperity.
"We expect people to come to Oklahoma City and have their expectations exceeded. That's partially because their expectations are typically low," Cornett said.
Many out-of-towners picture Oklahoma City as a sleepy little dust bowl city filled with doublewides and cattle ranches, but Mayor Cornett said he is happy that America's city leaders will get to see the rest the progress and how far the city has come.
"The city I grew up in doesn't have any semblance to what the city is today," Cornett said.
There is new construction everywhere while new growth is at a standstill in most American cities. Oklahoma City has also landed a pro basketball team, which makes the city the envy of wanna-be NBA towns.
"We have the lowest unemployment in the U.S., we're building a skyscraper a block from here, we have a new NBA team, and coming soon a new convention center, a new downtown central park, and the largest streetcar system in the United States. All funded, all getting ready to be built."
The downtown area has also come alive with Bricktown and other major attractions, and more attractions still to come. Many visitors admitted they were a bit surprised.
"It's serene. I was not expecting such a beautiful place. I think I was expecting something that was a lot more dry and arid. It's actually just beautiful here," said Ross Sveback, visiting from Minnesota.
"I'm so surprised that there's even a canal downtown. I had no idea that this was part of your lovely downtown area, and I definitely thought it would be a little more rustic, not quite as cosmopolitan,"said Kara Williams, visiting from Colorado.
And one thing Mayor Cornett said he won't have to worry about is the impression Oklahomans will leave on visitors.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is a nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. The conference wraps up Monday.