Mayor Taylor Readies for 2008
By DAVID JONES
IN THE NEWS: Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor enjoys her interview with a Tulsa television reporter after a Dec. 1 announcement that the BOK Center has secured a $4.875 million, 15-year founding partnership with the Oklahoma Ford Dealers. The arena is scheduled to open in September.
DAVID JONES for GTR Newspapers
Asking Kathy Taylor about the direction Tulsa will go in 2008 is like asking a deep-sea diver to concentrate on the foot below the water’s surface; she wants to go deeper.
Not that 2008 won’t have its fair share of hoopla, particularly surrounding the planned September opening of the Bank of Oklahoma Center. “That is already causing a surge of redevelopment downtown,” Taylor says. “The new downtown art museum, the establishment of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, the opening of entertainment and restaurant facilities in the Blue Dome and Brady Village areas is having a major effect on the vibrancy of the greater downtown area.”
The city itself, almost by happenstance, is going to add to that atmosphere.
“Moving the city offices into One Technology Center will allow us to consolidate offices that are currently scattered through the city. It will enable us to have better communication between offices and lead to more efficiency.
“But it will also return the areas we have been occupying into tax-revenue producing centers. We have hired one of the premiere real estate development firms in the nation (Jones, Lang LaSalle out of their Chicago office) to handle the deserted properties. Our current City Hall, I expect, will be torn down and it will be up to them to find a developer who will turn the area into a real asset for the community. This would, for example, make an excellent hotel site within a block of the BOK Center.”
It is headline news, of course, when a major manufacturer announces a move to Tulsa, but Taylor says 80 percent of the city’s future growth will come from within.
“Every month I hold a meeting with people representing different sections of the economy and every month most of them say they want to expand. We have developed plans to help entrepreneurs in Tulsa and the companies we help are the economic roots of Tulsa’s future. A QuikTrip could put its national headquarters anywhere in the nation but stays in Tulsa. People who have strong ties with Tulsa tend to want to remain here.
“But we have to help them help us. If they are going to add employees we have to provide them with a workforce that is sufficiently trained to do the job. This is why we worked to ensure two free years of post-high school education at Tulsa Community College. We have programs that can help students who couldn’t otherwise afford to buy books. I think the building of an educated work force
is going to lead to the biggest development this city will ever see.”
Educated workers are not the only cornerstones for a prosperous Tulsa, Taylor says. The government has to roll up its sleeves as well.
“We need to make the government as friendly to businesses as possible. We have to let people know we want them and value them and will work with them.
“We also want to have a transparent government; the average citizen has to know what is going on at City Hall.
“To that end we have just begun an e-mail that anyone can get every Monday morning. The Internet address is www.cityoftulsa.org and when you get to the front-page look on the right hand side for ‘E-News.’
“The key is that this newsletter is another tool to make city government more interactive and information more accessible.
“You can find out about parks and concerts, neighborhood associations, environmental programs or the city budget. You can even report a problem like a pothole.
“You can also find information on subjects from what is playing at the Performing Arts Center to what is being exhibited at Philbrook or Gilcrease Museums or the latest display at the Tulsa Zoo. You can even print a ticket for an event at the Performing Arts Center at home.”
All these things are designed to bring the citizen closer to the city and the city closer to the citizen.
As Mayor Taylor says she sees it, it is all well and good if a major company wants to relocate in Tulsa, but the surest growth is growth from within.