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November 05, 2019

OKC's Lost Generation

Mick Cornett – Executive Counsel

While traveling and promoting my book “The Next American City,” I have encountered a trend. After I speak, people in the audience want to come up and tell me their story. In Louisville, a 40-year-old man came up and said he was originally from Oklahoma City, but he came of age at a bad time in our city’s history. It was the 1980’s when we didn’t have jobs that measured up to his educational attainment. And then I had a very similar encounter in Springfield, Missouri. A man told me that he grew up in Oklahoma City and couldn’t believe how much it had changed. Generally, when I hear these stories, the other person thinks their story is quite unique. While some of the details are of course individual, the overall theme is not. It’s Oklahoma City’s Lost Generation. These two individuals, both apparently living very successful lives in other places, lived in a “Pre-MAPS” Oklahoma City. It’s a different story today. More and more highly educated individuals who are in their 20s are finding what they are looking for right here in OKC. Just another reminder of the long-term benefits of MAPS.

Back in 1993 when Mayor Ron Norick was urging voters to pass the MAPS Project, he sent a clinching message just before Election Day. “Look,” he said. “Even if no one ever moves to Oklahoma City because of MAPS and even if no one ever creates a job in Oklahoma City because of MAPS. The worst case scenario is that we will have a better city for us. Wouldn’t you like your kids and grandkids to grow up in a city and choose to live here later on?” That first MAPS passed with 53% of the vote. Today, it’s difficult to find people who will admit they voted against it. Because eventually it changed everything.

The MAPS 4 vote is coming up December 10.


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