LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett was in on Wednesday night to speak with the Leadership Lawton Class.
During his run as mayor, Mick Cornett led OKC through major economic development, including the revitalization of Bricktown and bringing the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder to the city.
Mick Cornett was the first person to be elected as Oklahoma City’s mayor four times, and during his tenure he said he learned a lot about what can help a struggling city turn itself around.
“A city has to be willing to invest in itself. We’re always trying to attract outside investment, we always think some big company or person is going to come in from the outside and invest a lot in our cities. The truth is, until you invest in yourself, you can’t expect others to come in and invest,” said Cornett.
Cornett said part of the problem for smaller cities is that they aren’t doing enough to attract young people to their communities.
“You’ve got to attract highly educated 20-something’s. It’s important to establish a city where they feel welcome, a city that’s inclusive, a city that has an urban core,” said Cornett.
Now, as Mayor Stan Booker looks at the future of Lawton, he said some some of his ideas come straight from the Cornett playbook.
“We’re absolutely interested in what he has to say about building a city that young professionals want to live in. We don’t have to recreate the wheel, we can take lessons from OKC, take lessons from Mick Cornett and what has gone on up there. The first thing we have to do is get our citizens to believe that it’s possible here in Lawton, and it absolutely is,” said Booker.
Currently, Cornett is promoting his book, “The Next American City,” which focuses on solutions for struggling cities.
He said serving as mayor gave him a chance to see parts of Oklahoma that needed help, and he hopes his book can at least show these cities that there is hope, and that he’s here to support Oklahoma.
“I’m a cheerleader for cities of all sizes, and everywhere that can improve themselves. I have my fingers crossed that Lawton can follow a lot of great examples and make this a place that attracts a lot of people,” said Cornett.
The Leadership Lawton class will finish off their nine-month schedule on Thursday with a class on economic development, which is why they picked Mick Cornett to present a speech on just that.
Cornett said he hasn’t spent much time in Lawton, but the future looks bright under the leadership of Mayor Booker