View Full Version : Please explain

07-22-2005, 12:52 AM
Hello, I came to check out your forum, after RiceAndSoonerGrad was down checking out, Austin's development forum. And I have a question after viewing many threads. Why is Austin never mentioned in anyone's posts? Now, I realize this forum isn't about Austin, so what I mean is I heard many other cities mentioned, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Nashville, etc. The reason I am dumbfounded by this is OKC and Austin are fairly similiar in both city and metro populations, and are in the same region. As a matter of fact, it's probably the best city to compare OKC to as far as out of state cities in the region. Also, Austin is certainly a city OKC could get some pointers from, as we have alot of the things it appears you guys seek. For example, there was alot about retail in your forums; well we have lots of high-end retail (Saks, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, etc.), and some very good urban shopping districts with cool local shops (South Congress a.k.a. SoCo, and South First a.k.a. SoFi, as well as some others). Also, I kept hearing the reason you don't have these sorts of things is because of proximity to Dallas; well, we're closer to Dallas, and we're even closer to Houston than Dallas, and closer to San Antonio than you are to Tulsa, and we're doing fine. Also, Austin has many nonstop direct flights all over the country, and somewhere near 7 million passengers going through ABIA every year. Also, if you knew how many hotels, office buildings, residential high-rises in downtown have gone up, and are u/c, or about to break ground you'd probably be shocked. We have a vibrant downtown with over 5,000 residents, high-end grocers in downtown, great restaurants, nightclubs, etc, all over downtown. I could go on and on, but I think the point is made; and I am not trying to piss anyone off, but it is crazy, that such a comparably sized place in your region, that is so far and above where you are right now in urban development, wouldn't be mentioned once (at least that I saw). So, do you guys just have an unspoken rule not to mention the sinful, liberal capital city to your south, or are you just unaware of what's happening in the ATX?

07-22-2005, 08:22 AM
I remember there being a lot of mention of Austin when this board first got going last summer, but that talk has died down. Every once in a while Austin will pop up in a thread. I like Austin. I have a lot of friends heading down there for various grad school programs. I will be visiting a couple of times this year, especially for Austin City Limits Music Festival.

07-22-2005, 08:38 AM
I remember there being a lot of mention of Austin when this board first got going last summer, but that talk has died down. Every once in a while Austin will pop up in a thread. I like Austin. I have a lot of friends heading down there for various grad school programs. I will be visiting a couple of times this year, especially for Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Since this board is about Oklahoma City, there is no need to mention other cities except as a comparison or for another type example, or to mention an event.

Yes. The other poster is correct. Austin HAS been mentioned before.

07-22-2005, 12:28 PM
I too like Austin a lot. It's just the way the conversation's gone that others have been mentioned more often.

07-22-2005, 01:11 PM
Austin is a good city to compare OKC to. I didn't realize you had that much upscale retail down there. It is curious that you can support those kind of stores with a similar population and even closer proximity to Houston and Dallas. It makes me wonder if it's really true that we can't support such stores here (as their officials often say when we ask why they don't have a store here). I'd be very interested in discussing further this comparison.

Could you tell us more about what you think spurred such an urban lifestyle in Austin? That's only happened in the last 20 years or so am I right?

07-22-2005, 02:18 PM
Austin's transformation did begin in the middle eighties, and has never stopped. Some reasons for Austin's ability to attract high-end retailers, IMO is that we do have a few hundred thousand more residents in our metro, and they tend to be wealthier. Also, I know Austin is much more compact than OKC; this is important because retailers like large populations in 5-mile radius of the store. Also, we have grown so much, we have a large population of various backgrounds that I suppose have a desire for the finer things. What you may not know, is that Austin is considered one of the marquee markets in the nation; more valuable than larger places such as San Antonio. One more thing, much of what makes Austin cool, IMO is not the chains, but what local entrepreneurs have done. Sixth Street, Red River, Warehouse District, Guadalupe, South Congress; these are not filled with corporate giants, they are not there as a result of any city incentives, or urban renewal, but because the citizens of this city started their own businesses, and have thrived. Every city is different, but I think OKC should attempt to densify it's urban core, and support it's local businesses. By the way, thank you for the positive replies; I kinda expected to be run outta dodge after my previous thread! :)

07-22-2005, 02:32 PM
One more thing, much of what makes Austin cool, IMO is not the chains, but what local entrepreneurs have done.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner. :)

On to the bonus round:

Every city is different, but I think OKC should attempt to densify it's urban core, and support it's local businesses.

I'm not sure if 'densify' is a word, but we'll give you the car anyway! :)

You are correct in that many businesses have a simple demographic formula they use to dictate expansion. OKC's civic structure and income demographics make it a hard sell on paper. With 620 square miles and many of our higher income workers fleeing the city for the suburbs, we have had to kind of create secondary density with traffic in Bricktown. In addition, there is a growing movement to fill in downtown with urban living. While it is a long way from being the next Austin, it is finally making conscious efforts to expand its living, cultural, and entertainment offerings.

In the end, you are right though, it will be what makes us unique rather than what makes us like everyone else that will decide our fate.

07-22-2005, 03:07 PM
You are definetely right, Nic. Fortunately, we do have a good amount of established local businesses, especially restaurants but also retail. But we need to do a better job of condensing these businesses into an urban area, which for us will be downtown.

07-22-2005, 04:38 PM
Nic, welcome to OKCtalk. I have never been to Austin but would love to go one day. I think you make some very interesting points regarding similarities. I for one, welcome suggestions and ideas on how to create a more urban feel for our city .... (and if someone from another city can shed some light and share ideas - I'm welcoming you with open arms!)

07-25-2005, 03:40 PM
Austin benefits from having one of the very largest universities in the country and from being the Capitol City of the 2nd largest state in America.

If the University of Oklahoma were located in Downtown OKC just think about how much economic impact that would have. Imagine how well locally owned restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, and urban living would do in such a situation... especially during football games, as well as other sports and university sponsored events. It also would pull in a lot of out-of-state money, since such a large percentage of OU students and alumni come from Texas.

Even if this were the case, it would still be hard to compare the two cities, simply because of the sheer size difference of the two universities and states.

That being said, I think Nic is right that Austin is a much better representation of what a city should strive for, rather than cities like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Austin has the benefits of a large metropolis without most of the things that make large cities bad.

Too bad it is the home of the Longhorns...

07-25-2005, 04:42 PM
Yeah, UT played a huge role. Its Balcones Research Center, established in the 1940s, engaged faculty and graduate students in research projects that gave them expertise. It was this kind of experience that enabled Austin to land tech companies like Tracor, IBM, and Texas Instruments in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. These employees weren't just manufacturing machines, they were engineering them.

Which is to say that OKC can do the same thing with OU, and a lesser extent, OSU (because of distance). The research done at the OU Med Center/PHF Research Park shows what can happen. In terms of high tech, the size of the student and graduate bodies are not as large (referring to BFizzy's point) or concentrated as they are in Austin. We need more quality and commercializable technology coming out of the engineering and science programs. We have a lot postsecondary schools in the metro, they're just not generating the level and type of research that attracts and grows companies.

We need to be developing capabilities in technologies other than oil and gas. OSU is working on some interesting agricultural product projects, but I don't see any of that action migrating to OKC. OU's engineering programs are intimately involved in commercialization, but OKC has yet to really benefit a lot from their activities -- there seems to be a disconnect between local employers needing engineers and the graduates of the OU programs. My guess is the opportunities aren't sexy enough in OKC, so they leave for more exciting (and better paying) opportunities elsewhere.

A terrific investment for a local millionaire (know any?) would be to partner with the city/state and the chamber to establish an engineering research lab. It doesn't have to be connected to a university. We have some organizations in place to help commercialize technologies, it's just that not there's not enough commercializable research being done. A research lab in OKC would diversify the economy and attract/retain talent. It would eventually help raise the per capita income level of the region. Having more people create things rather than assemble them them will do that.

Economic development investments take decades to bear fruit. OKC just needs to plant more seeds.

07-27-2005, 08:43 PM
Certainly being Texas' state capital, and having U.T. helps enormously, but can't be the only reasons. Look at Tallahassee, FL, the capital of one of the U.S.'s largest states, and Florida State University; yet I've never heard of Tallahasse as a particularly appealing place. There are others such as Baton Rouge, LA. I just think it's kind of over simplifying Austin's appeal. College graduates don't have to stay in Austin; and people from other states don't have to move here. FYI, the Austin metro added over 400,000 residents in the nineties, and another 150,000 since 2000. People who attended college here, or work for the state make up a fraction of those people. Also, Austin has had huge obstacles to overcome, from competing with three of the nations largest ten cities in our own state, to dealing with an inadequate highway system, dealing with a legislature that is known for "Austin-bashing" legislation, etc., etc. I'm not trying to complain, but just make it clear that being a state capital, and having a flagship university guarantees nothing. I do not know all the reasons Austin has been successful, but I do know it is a special place; and I can only hope it continues to be. Also, good luck in OKC's journey to greatness....sorry if that's kinda corny, but I couldn't think of a way to end this thread.

07-27-2005, 09:47 PM
Good point. Columbus, OH also fits into the group. While it's charging faster than the two rival cities (Cleveland and Cincinnati -- a la Dallas and Houston), it's hasn't had the national appeal Austin has.

I think it's a lot of things that have come together that made Austin grow: infamous Texas boosterism and commercialism (forget church; commerce is Texas' religion), the beauty and diversions of Texas Hill County; Austin's live music scene, punctuated by South by Southwest and Austin City Limits; the liberal leanings of the people (although I hear it is becoming more conservative), which attracted people who otherwise wouldn't be attracted to Texas; the early mixed cultural influences of the Germans and Mexicans, not to mention some present-day Asian contributions (where else can you find Vietnamese-tejano music?) When you throw in the aformementioned advantages of a collegetown and state capitol, you get those kind of numbers.

All I can say is, thanks for those words, and good luck in managing the growth.

07-27-2005, 09:52 PM
Actually, now that I think of it, Vietnamese-Hispanic music could possiby take root here in OKC. I've already seen some occupational intermingling between the older and newer immigrants.

07-27-2005, 10:16 PM
You're welcome, floater; and managing the growth has been a major headache, and although we're still growing, it's slowed, allowing us to make infrastructure, school, jail, fire/ems, etc. improvements, all the things increased population require. Also, the city of Austin is as liberal and independent as ever; it's just we now have major suburban populations whom are more conservative to balance things out. I actually think that is good in a way, because if all you ever interact with are people just like you, it's way too easy to just dismiss other viewpoints without any debate or discussion.

07-27-2005, 10:22 PM
Austin is incredible.... I don't how OKC could compete with it, or would want to. Can we learn some things from Austin? Yes. But our cities will likely remain very different...

07-28-2005, 10:32 AM
Agreed... I'm new to this board and I guess that I was just a little suprised that people from other cities like Tulsa, Omaha, and Austin come to the OKC board to tell us how much better they are. I'm assume that those cities' boards get OKC traffic as well, but I hope that people from OKC don't try to tell them how great we are. I love Austin and Tulsa (my hometown) and I'm sure Omaha is great, but OKC doesn't need to be like those cities.

OKC can only play with the hand it has been dealt and we definitely have our fair share of challenges to overcome. However, in the eight years that I have been in the OKC area, it has gone from a depressing place to a very respectable city. I know there is more to OKC than Bricktown, but Bricktown has the infrustructure to be a really special place.

OKC just needs to base it's success on it's own standards... not the standards of other cities. We know what we want and we should just strive to achieve it. It isn't about being better than everyone else, it's about being what we want to be... and when we get there, I hope we won't brag about it.