When Oklahoma City invested in itself

 

I’ve been reading about the ongoing debate over the upcoming vote on a temporary, 1-cent sales tax that the citizens of my home town in Fort Smith, Ark., are considering imposing on themselves.

The tax, which as I understand it would be effective for only nine months, would be used to complete the U.S. Marshals Museum, which is under construction along the Arkansas River in Fort Smith.

To me, a “yes” vote on the tax would be a no-brainer. The community would be investing in itself for a facility that would enhance it as a go-to destination for visitors from around the nation and the world. 

But many don’t see the possibilities, and only see the extra penny tax they would have to pay. You can read about the debate here from the Talk Business and Politics website.

I would offer Oklahoma City’s experience in investing itself as a template for what is possible.

Since we voted “yes” to our MAPS projects in 1993, OKC has been transformed into one of the nation’s premier go-to destinations not only for visitors, but for new businesses and residents. We built a new ballpark, arenas, a canal, a library and transformed a neglected and almost empty river that runs just south of downtown.

Now we have one of the NBA’s premier franchises, a downtown streetcar system and are building a fantastic new “central park” and massive convention center. Our population is blossoming, and many of those are the young, educated “creative class,” who are choosing to stay here rather than take jobs out of state after graduating college.

All because of MAPS, a temporary, 1-cent sales tax.

Sure there were naysayers who could not or would not see the vision. I’m so glad that the majority of voters bought into the concept of MAPS in 1993 and in subsequent votes in the years to follow.  We’re so far removed from the city we were in 1993.

I’m hopeful that the folks in my hometown of Fort Smith can see the vision of what is possible for their community and vote “yes” for the temporary sales tax to fund the Marshals Museum.

 

 

 

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jimstafford

I'm an Oklahoma City-based freelance writer with interests in Oklahoma startup community, Apple Inc, OKC Thunder & Texas Rangers.

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