OKC mayor at deadCenter Film Festival: City's unity has led to success

Friday, June 12, 2015 12:01 am

In making the documentary "Oklahoma City: The Boom, the Bomb and the Bust," Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett wanted to tell a part of the city's history that many people don't know, he said during deadCenter Film Festival discussion on Friday.

"We are raising a generation of young people in this community who think the ballpark's always been downtown, who think we've always had an NBA team, who think the river has always had water," Cornett said. 

Cornett spoke to a nearly-full audience in the 250-seat Noble Theatre at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art as part of deadCenter's movie- and discussion-packed weekend. He talked about how far Oklahoma City has come since the failure of Penn Square Bank in 1982 and how all three of the time periods his movie covers -- the booming economy in the 1970s, the collapse of the 1980s and into the 1990s and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in 1995 -- have shaped us.

“The city we have today is a direct result of life experiences. I think that generation that went through the economic collapse of the 1980s and then carried the emotional burden of the Oklahoma City bombing reacted in an incredibly united way in the late ‘90s and in the last decade. I think that was a bonding era," the mayor said.

Nearly 40 cities have traveled to Oklahoma City in the last couple of years to study its success and gain ideas that apply to their own cities, Cornett said, noting that the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber has a 'well-rehearsed response' to offer them. They can emulate Oklahoma City's ideas and  even build a canal through a warehouse district, he said.

"But the thing they can’t extract from Oklahoma city is the unity that exists in this city. We have more people pulling on the same rope … I think that’s a direct result of this 25-year old period," Cornett said.

He said while the previous 10 years have been great for Oklahoma City in terms of economic development and opportunity, he believes the next 10 years will be even better.

“I just so amazed. ... I don’t think any city in American history has come as far and as fast as Oklahoma City has come," Cornett said.

Find out more about the deadCenter Film Festival going on in Oklahoma City through Sunday, June 14. See a schedule.