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Why Oklahoma City, Other Metropolitan Areas Are Crucial To The Economy

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Author and Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program fellow Jennifer Bradley argues that cities like Oklahoma City are vital to a post-recession economy. During Oklahoma City’s 2014 Mayor’s Development Roundtable in May, she said she admires Oklahoma’s progress and improvement.

“When it comes to building a livable, sustainable, and economically viable place, there’s no such thing as finished,” Bradley says.

Credit Metropolitan Policy Program / Brookings Institution
Brookings Institution
Jennifer Bradley

Bradley is the co-author of the 2013 book The Metropolitan Revolution that argues for the effectiveness and power of local government, something she says s needed now more than ever.

“Between 2000 and 2011, the number of poor and near poor people in the U.S. increased from 80 million to about 107 million. That’s over a third of the total population of this country,” Bradley says. “So what the Metropolitan Revolution means is that in the face of federal dysfunction metropolitan leaders are not waiting for Washington.”

Bradley says metros make up two-thirds the U.S. and 75 percent of gross domestic product. During her talk, she singled out New York, Denver, Portland and Detroit as examples of metropolitan innovation.

Local money and ingenuity that crafted a science and engineering campus in New York. Over 130 million dollars in public funding was spent to get the school up and running.

Denver, after the early 1980s energy crisis, saw its museum and culture department beginning to fade.

“If Denver was hurting, Littleton, Aurora, Broomfield, and Bolder were also going to suffer as well,” Bradley says.

But in 1988 locals devised a tax for the museum and culture areas, eliminating any past issues.

Portland has proven to be an export powerhouse, and according to Bradley a fundamental aspect to being a powerful metro is being able to link markets effectively.

The key for these metros and Oklahoma City, Bradley says, is to not be “competing against each other,” but to compete as a world standard.

Detroit is the hardest metro for Bradley to defend.


Scroll ahead to 1:00:36 for Jennifer Bradley's presentation

“People say, Detroit just went bankrupt, doesn’t this totally undermine you’re book and blow it out of the water?” But Bradley says downtown Detroit, while having only three percent of the city’s landmass, makes up for 30 percent of jobs.

“Metros have to create networks of people who take responsibility for social and economic progress,” Bradley says.


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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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