Discussing the Future of OKC With Top Local Leaders - 405 Magazine

Discussing the Future of OKC With Top Local Leaders

Some of Oklahoma’s biggest leaders from some of the state’s largest spheres of influence – Lt.

Some of Oklahoma’s biggest leaders from some of the state’s largest spheres of influence – Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, OKC Chamber of Commerce President Roy Williams and OKC Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel – discuss the future of Oklahoma City.

    • On what Oklahoma City will look like in 10 years:
      “Over the next 10 years, Oklahoma City is primed to become one of the top 15 biggest cities in America. The reason for the growth we’ve seen and will see is because of the diversification of the economy and Oklahoma City investing in itself. The MAPS program has been one of the most successful incentive programs in the country. It’s a model nationally. And Oklahoma City has worked hard to diversify their economy. Thousands of people who will move inside of Oklahoma City in the next 10 years because of it.” – Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell
    • On how OKC will change physically in the next 10 years: 
      “Physically, we’re building out a billion dollars-worth of MAPS projects, which will dramatically change the look of the city. And we are seeing a tremendous amount of commercial building. The Innovation District will change, as healthcare and bio science grow. We’ll have a lot of highway structures that will change over the next decade. We are poised for a lot of very positive physical growth while a lot of other cities are stagnant or losing population. Demographically, Oklahoma City-proper grew by 101,000 people (in the recently released 2020 Census). Only 14 cities in the Unites States grew by 100,000 or more. We’re part of a select group of cities. … OKC is a city now where the minority populations are the majority. Our ethnic makeup is changing. That’s all very positive. You certainly wouldn’t want the opposite. Living in a diverse city is much more interesting than living in a sterile community. You get diverse housing, a diverse workforce, diverse restaurants. You get all kinds of things that if you stayed with what you had and you just get more of the same.” – OKC Chamber President Roy Williams
    • On how the educational landscape will change in the next 10 years for Oklahoma City Public Schools:
      “An interesting question. That will depend somewhat on who our state leaders are at that time and the importance they place on education, particularly on public education. My belief is that in the next 10 years, respect and admiration of teachers and the teaching profession will be restored and that public school funding will be paramount in the legislature and in the governor’s office. Additionally, I believe Oklahoma City Public Schools will be a model for urban schools across the country; that we will be known for our attention to the mental health and wellness of our students, families and staff and that our academic offerings, growth and achievement will be exemplary. I believe enrollment will be on the rise and that OKCPS will be the district of choice for OKC families.” – OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel
    • On how the economic landscape will change in the next 10 years for OKC:
      “It’s been a long-term goal of ours to focus on the economic diversification of the economy. Thirty, 40 years ago, oil and gas was dominant and people were saying we’ve got to diversify.  And we have. The energy sector has continually gone down. It still has significant economic impact but a declining employment impact. Before the pandemic, the fastest growing sector was the hospitality sector – hotels to destinations to restaurants. It was creating jobs faster than any other sector. COVID put the breaks on that, but the good news is that the hotel/motel tax is right about where we were before the pandemic. As an industry, it’s’ really come back strong. We anticipate that will continue. We’re seeing growth in other industry sectors like aviation and aerospace, bio science and health care, and not one of those sectors do we see that pace slowing down.” – OKC Chamber President Roy Williams
    • On what industries in Oklahoma City will emerge or strengthen in the next 10 years: 
      “Our aerospace industry will probably become the No. 1 industry as it might overcome even our energy industry in the state in the next 10 years. It’s no. 2 in the state right now. And as secretary of tourism, I am watching the tourism industry very closely, and OKC is a tourism destination.  It truly is a ‘choose all of the above’ kind of tourism town. Oklahoma did a record $9.6 billion in direct spending related to tourism and had 21 million visitors in 2018, which was a 7 percent grown since 2017. Tourism creates an extremely valuable sales tax revenue for Oklahoma City. It’s an industry that is critical for the success of Oklahoma City.” – Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell
    • On how a changing Oklahoma City will change its’ public schools:
      OKCPS will continue to place emphasis on mental health and wellness as a foundational building block for student success. Less focus on one-time state standardized testing and more focus on students being able to demonstrate proficiency and mastery of standards. More focus on multiple career and life pathways and workforce readiness for students and less focus on traditional and many times inconsequential activities. A stronger tie between K-12, Career Tech and higher education. And more family educational opportunities inside the schools.
    • On what changes need to occur to usher in new growth in Oklahoma City: 
      “Workforce development is always at the top of our list. When we talk to a company wanting to relocate, they want to know about our workforce development program and our public education systems. Our career tech system must be a big part of that solution, training kids to meet the demands of our workforce. Middle schools and high schools that have joint partnerships with the career techs. We need to be absolutely tenacious about those partnerships, and we need to be investing proper amount of dollars into those classrooms and creating a teacher pipeline so that as teachers phase out and retire, we have a good pipeline to replace them. If we don’t do those things, then luring a large company with thousands of employees proves to be more difficult.” – Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell
    • On how OKC’s workforce will adjust to this growth: 
      “One thing that stands out here is we have the lowest employment rate of any metro in the United States at 2.6 per 60,000 job openings. Talent is talked about in every conversation, impacting every business and every company. It’s putting pressure on wages. We’re looking at all kinds of strategies when it comes to recruiting talent. Companies and businesses and employers are going to have to rethink their business models. With changes in employee habits because of COVID, employers are going to have to figure out in this tight labor market how they still do what they do but do it differently – or with less people. Our workforce is drying up and we have to restructure how we work. This issue will be front and center for a long time to come. It’s hard to grow out of it real fast.” – OKC Chamber President Roy Williams
    • On the role of public-private partnerships in OKC during the next decade: 
      “We will continue in a construction boom. Residential is booming. Commercial activity is booming. Retail sector has really picked back up. Our new convention center and new MAPS projects — you are going to see a lot of private sector leverage of all that. Public investment leads to private investment. And the biggest public investment we’ve made is happening in the next decade. Then, add in all this federal stimulus money. We will have $1.9 billion to spend in the next 3-5 years. And the state and counties have millions more. What kind of infrastructure will come out of that? We are going to have a one-time opportunity to do some stuff that we haven’t had the opportunity to do in past.” – OKC Chamber President Roy Williams