APB Speaker Mick Cornett Says Cities Recently Devastated by Storms Can Build Back Better
11 Jan 2022
With the recent outbreak of tornadoes and severe storms, many Midwestern and Southern cities are facing a grim reality—loss of life and homes and businesses flattened. Soon, utilities will be repaired, debris will be collected and taken away and leadership will have to ask the question, “Now what?” Can the residents of these decimated areas deal with the emotional burden? Is it possible for these communities to physically rebuild in a new or smarter way? For former Mayor of Oklahoma City Mick Cornett, the answer is “absolutely yes” because he’s seen his own city rebound from several disasters.
With F5 tornadoes in 1999, 2003 and 2013 and the largest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history in 1995, Oklahoma City has not only survived but thrived. It now has one of the strongest economies and population growths in the country.
As a four-term mayor of one of America's most improved cities, Cornett used a bold, creative, and personal approach to orchestrate his city's renaissance. Once regarded as a forgettable city in "flyover country," Oklahoma City has become one of our nation's most dynamic places. And other cities have done the same.
In his book The Next American City: The Big Promise of Our Midsize Metros, Cornett translates his city's success—and the success of cities like his—into a vision for the future of our country. With civic engagement, inventive public policy and smart urban design, anything is possible.
“Oklahoma City. Indianapolis. Charleston. Des Moines. What do these cities have in common?” Cornett asks. “They are cities of modest size but outsized accomplishments, powered by a can-do spirit, valuing compromise over confrontation and progress over political victory. These are the cities leading America . . . and they're not waiting for Washington's help.”
“Opportunities for cities and towns to re-invent themselves are around the corner … It’s time that we start spending more time concentrating on what brings us together instead of what tears us apart,” Cornett adds. “As our population grows, I see an opportunity to reinvent and reinvest in ourselves by embracing our shared values.”