Growth is a good thing. At least it is generally considered better than the alternative. Just last week on 435 Voices we heard guests from South Dakota and West Virginia discussing a challenge that faces many rural areas across the country, the brain drain that results from young people packing up from their small towns and family farms and heading for the city never to return.
But that’s not the problem in the fifth district of Oklahoma where the population is made up to a very large extent by the city of Oklahoma City. The OKC Chamber’s Web site says the city is growing at twice the national average and in the last decade it has grown by 14 percent and welcomed an NBA basketball franchise.
But while the Thunder are undoubtedly a source of civic pride (the team dominates the headlines even in a football-crazy state), a question seems to be emerging: what’s beyond Thunder (dome.)
In the early 90’s the city launched an initiative called MAPS (Metropolitan Area Project(s), which created a one-cent sales tax that has been used to fund everything from new stadiums to a canal network to a streetcar line. But now that the city has become a destination for people from all over the country, it is now facing a new set of challenges common to larger cities and similar to those found in other high growth areas: Austin, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Columbus.