We in Oklahoma City have a lot to celebrate this Thanksgiving, so as the Chamber wishes you well for the holidays, here’s a list of our own Top 10 OKC things we’re thankful for in 2015:
- Entrepreneurs! Inc. Magazine referred to OKC as the “next cool startup scene,” and Entrepreneur Magazine called OKC a “startup haven” in naming it “the 1 city worth moving to if you want to launch a business.” VeloCity Magazine recently explored this topic in depth after Kiplinger named Oklahoma City No. 1 on its list of 10 great cities for starting a business.
- Plans for improving Oklahoma City’s emerging innovation district, which encompasses the Oklahoma Health Center and Automobile Alley. As we work with the Brookings Institution and the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) on this concept, we see great potential for cultivating innovation throughout the city. The Oklahoma Health Center Foundation recently celebrated 50 years of promoting medicine, research and the biosciences in Oklahoma City in that area; GE Global Research Oil and Gas Technology Center is under construction; and Automobile Alley is home to numerous startups and amenities. Combine this innovation district movement with the city’s ongoing momentum, and Oklahoma City keeps getting better.
- The beautiful Myriad Botanical Gardens, which won an international award from the Urban Land Institute for its success as a public space that enriched and revitalized the surrounding area. Also, the nearby Devon Energy Center was one of ULI’s 10 Global Awards of Excellence winners as an outstanding development project.
- OKC Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and our celebration of 10 years of hosting the NBA in OKC (ESPN). Cheering them on are some of the top fans in the NBA, according to Forbes.
- Whitewater rafting is coming to Oklahoma City in 2016 with RIVERSPORT Rapids, and we are excited for that and all the things going on at the Boathouse District.
- Oklahoma City’s revered Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS), of which RIVERSPORT Rapids is a part. The MAPS projects throughout the metro, which include an upcoming downtown park and convention center, symbolize all that the city has done over the last 20 years to diversify the economy and enhance Oklahoma City’s quality of life and spur economic development. The vision and leadership that led to these projects also are helping Oklahoma City get through its economic downturn; Fortune named the city as one of the top places in the U.S. to find a job.
- The city’s airspace industry continues to grow, with Boeing breaking ground on a new facility that will bring hundreds of new jobs to the area and the purchase of land from BNSF that will strengthen Tinker Air Force Base for years to come. Aerospace job growth continues with Boeing on a path to hire 800-1,000 more workers and Tinker is in the midst of an effort to hire 1,000 in 100 days.
- The “Oklahoma Standard” of generosity and kindness was on display as Oklahomans in April commemorated the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building with extensive renovations to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum and our citizens’ performing of intentional acts of service, honor and kindness that month.
- New shopping! Oklahoma City’s retail scene has been full of good news lately, with the arrival of TopGolf and Cabela's in north Oklahoma City’s Chisholm Creek development; H&M and Von Maur at Quail Springs Mall; Vera Bradley, Charming Charlie, Charlotte Russe, Sperry Topsider and North Face at the Outlet Shoppes at Oklahoma City; and Madewell, a J.Crew concept store, at Penn Square Mall. Don’t miss out on what’s to come at the Chamber’s new retail website, okcretail.com.
- The proliferation of great restaurants and food throughout the area, including some of the new ones that opened in 2015 – Brickopolis in Bricktown, Rock & Brews along the Memorial Corridor, Bruner’s at the Haunted House, The Drake in Uptown 23 and more.
We continue to love the city’s vibrant cultural scene that includes the arts, music, restaurants, festivals, unique districts, outdoor activities and more (see The Better Life Blog to get a feel for all of the options). So enjoy your Thanksgiving as we celebrate all the good news in Oklahoma City.