Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oklahoma Revival

Posted By on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 8:45 AM

With all the talk of talent retention and attraction, I've recently been thinking that the city should ask some of its former residents to move back to town. Especially those with family still in the area.

I've talked to people educated here who say they plan to come back someday, just not for 20 or 30 years. But what if we could speed up their timetable somehow?

A story in yesterday's USAToday about Californians migrating to Oklahoma City has me thinking it's not impossible:

[Hollywood producer Neal] Nordlinger is running a software firm here and preaching the virtues of the heartland — low costs, unclogged streets, friendly people. "It's a dream here," he says. "The selling price of a house here would not be the down payment on a house in L.A. ... People in L.A. do something for you because there's something in it for them. Here, they genuinely want to help you succeed."

Memphis has a low cost of living, barely any traffic (as long as you shy away from Germantown Parkway), and I'd say the people here are pretty awesome. (Actually, if you read the story, a lot of it could be about Memphis.)

USAToday says that several factors have worked in Oklahoma's favor: It had made deliberate policy decisions to lure employers to Oklahoma or expand in the state, as long as they offer decent jobs with benefits. They've launched a state marketing campaign to bring skilled Oklahomans back from bigger cities. It also didn't have much of bust during the recent economic downtown, b/c it hadn't had much of a bust. They've launched a revitalization campaign in downtown Oklahoma City. And they're using their advantage in aerospace and defense technology to grow the field.

I think this is the thing I find most interesting, however, and comparable to our own city:

Newcomers say ambitious people can make a bigger impact faster in Oklahoma than they could in bigger, busier places. JD Merryweather's photography studio struggled in Santa Fe but took off in Oklahoma City. ...
Christy Counts returned to Oklahoma City from California six years ago, determined to start a Humane Society branch and head back to the West Coast. She's still here. "You can spend 15 years (elsewhere) trying to make a name for yourself," she says, "or you can spend two years (in Oklahoma City), work your a— off and make a difference."

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