Visit to Denver leaves local leaders wondering what Tulsa’s future might hold
DENVER — The Tulsa Regional Chamber’s annual long-distance tour is designed to get people thinking. And this year’s three-day trip to Denver did just that — just ask the mayor.
“These are, every time we do this, I think, the best days of the whole year for us as a community because we get out of our daily kind of weed that we are in our daily works and can go to a place and think about how to improve our community,” Mayor GT Bynum said at the end of the trip on Wednesday.
Bynum said one of the things he took away from the trip was that Denver, despite all of its success over the past decades, continues to look for ways to improve and grow. Tulsa has had a string of similar successes fueled by the same spirit of vibrancy found in the Mile High City, he said.
“The key for us, though, is that we can’t lose the momentum we have,” Bynum said. “If we continue what we have been doing for the last decade, we will have the same kind of success as them. I’m 100% sure, but we can’t let go.
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Bynum said he’s already started talking with the House about what other big, visionary projects might be on the horizon for the city — projects that could potentially go to voters as part of a future election program. capital improvement.
“We’re right now in Tulsa now where we’ve largely achieved a lot of things that people have been talking about for 50 years,” Bynum said. “…this current generation of Tulsans needs to think about the next big things we can focus on.”
On the first day of the intercity tour, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told the 100-plus attendees that his city’s most recent turning point came during the energy crisis of the late 1970s and early 1970s. 1980s, when its predominant oil and gas industries took a beating. .
This forced the city to diversify its workforce to include aerospace, biosciences, and other industries. But nothing has been more important to the city’s resurgence than the opening of Denver International Airport in 1995.
“This airport was built for 15 million passengers,” Hancock said. “Today it is the third busiest airport in the world. We will serve (more than) 74 million passengers this year.
Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, said Denver has been on the organization’s radar for several years because of its rankings in job creation and attracting young workers. talented.
He said he was particularly impressed with the public-private partnerships that have helped spur the city’s growth. For example, Denver’s decision to spend hundreds of millions of dollars renovating Union Station has led to $8 billion in private investment around the historic station, Neal said.
“As we look at the next big projects for Tulsa, if we can find a few of those that would generate that type of return or anywhere near that type of return…from a public-private partnership perspective, that would be amazing for our community,” Neal said.
The long distance tour began last Monday night with dinner at Empower Field in Mile High, home of the National Football League’s Denver Broncos. The following day was filled with presentations and panel discussions on everything from visionary leadership to attracting businesses and an educated workforce. Wednesday’s half-day agenda was highlighted by a panel discussion on Denver’s approach to addressing homelessness.
Councilman Jayme Fowler said he was impressed by what he heard.
“My biggest lesson from Denver was the deep integration of police departments and mental health responders,” he said. “Also, having a ‘behavioral health solutions center’ for assessment seems like something we could implement.”
Lauren Brookey, assistant vice president for advancement for OU-Tulsa, said the intercity visit always inspires her to work even harder to move the city forward.
“I walked out of Denver impressed with how they seem to double down on what they do well,” Brookey said. “Their arts program is similar to Tulsa’s, but they make municipal art a tourist attraction. Public transport there is holistic with planes, trains and buses, and (is) accessible. … The resources that citizens provide by imposing themselves to achieve the quality of life they desire are very impressive, and it shows.