Oklahoma City has grown handsomely in the past decade. I watch with pride as the city I’ve known as home virtually all of my life blossoms into a city that people desire to relocate to and grow and raise their families.
It’s a constant joy reading about new hotels being constructed. New boulevards being envisioned. Whole new communities and neighborhoods being planned and built. Bricktown is expanding. Midtown is developing. The Wheeler District is making its debut. The Paseo district and the Plaza district continue their respective renaissance.
It’s an exciting time to be in Oklahoma City.
I think about all of the opportunity that exists in our great city, but for some reason (and perhaps this is due to a very complex myriad of things) there aren’t very many, if any, prominent African-American land owners or developers operating in any of these areas experiencing this wonderful growth.
Why is this a problem? Because land and the industry that surrounds development promotes social, economic and political mobility. When it comes to commercial property development and prominent land ownership, there are no role models and mentors wh can pave a road for aspiring blacks who would like to forge a career in that area of business.
My hope is that urban planning-minded African-Americans will begin to understand the economics, business climate, network and culture that drives a resurgence such as we’re seeing in Oklahoma City, and begin to plan and work toward contributing to the fabric of the city’s growth and development in more of a capacity than just a consumer capacity.
Understanding the dynamics and complexities of finance that surround obtaining access to the immense capital needed to undertake these acquisitions and build-outs is a challenge we must confront.
This city belongs to all who live here and call it home. I want to encourage more African-Americans to begin to think about being involved in land development, city planning and commercial real estate transactions. Obtain the necessary education, experience and contacts that are needed to begin helping shape Oklahoma City into the great city it’s become and the greater city it will become.
Hayes, a 2004 candidate for Oklahoma City mayor, works in downtown Oklahoma City at Enterprise Crude Oil LLC.