Building America’s Future announced Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett (R), one of the nation’s most innovative mayors, has joined the organization. Building America’s Future, a bipartisan coalition of current and former elected officials, is co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
“We are delighted to welcome Mayor Cornett to Building America’s Future,” said Governor Rendell. “Mayor Cornett has demonstrated the type of leadership that is needed to invest in the types of projects that will allow his city and region to compete economically in the 21st Century. Time and again, mayors and governors are taking action and making the smart infrastructure investments while our leaders in Washington sit on their hands.”
“It is a pleasure to join Building America’s Future,” Cornett said. “We are so proud of what we’ve accomplished in Oklahoma City and I hope other elected officials take notice that it is possible to pass-initiatives that raise revenue as long as the projects are good and voters know what they are getting. I look forward to working with Building America’s Future and spreading the message that smart investments that generate an economic return deserve bipartisan support from our elected leaders.”
Oklahoma City has undergone a renaissance over the past 20 years due in large part to efforts by Mayor Cornett and city leaders, in both the public and private sectors, to remake the downtown. Project 180 is a city funded program designed to improve Oklahoma City’s downtown by 180 degrees. This four year program began in 2010 and includes a $176 million redesign of downtown streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas. Project 180’s goal is to attract more people to downtown by making it more pedestrian safe and friendly.
Additionally, Oklahoma City voters play a large role in generating revenue for the city. Dating back to 1993, voters approved a temporary one cent sales tax increase for what was called the Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS). Since then, voters have repeatedly approved extensions of the tax, and currently MAPS 3 is under way. The revenue generated by MAPS has funded school renovations and construction of a downtown canal, and paid to improve a river that was more weeds than water.
Part of the reason for the success of the sales tax initiatives is that citizens voted for the proposals knowing what projects were going to be undertaken. Mayor Cornett has played an instrumental role in developing the plans for how the revenue will be spent and clearly communicating with the public about the goals of MAPS 3. According to a recent study by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the MAPS initiatives have resulted in over $5 billion in public and private investment in Oklahoma City.
As a result of Oklahoma City’s transformation, officials from cities across the nation continue to visit to get ideas on how to revitalize their own communities. Building America’s Future hosted a forum in Oklahoma City with Mayor Cornett and the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce earlier this year to discuss the ways cities and states are filling the void of federal funding for projects like road and bridge repair and investments that would revitalize urban corridors.