When you think of cities that are similar to Oklahoma City, Houston is probably not the first city that pops into your head. But there are far more similarities than appear at first glance.
From city size (OKC – 620 square miles vs. Houston 637 square miles) to many of the same issues – transportation, quality of life, infrastructure, etc. – the two cities have so much in common that a group of more than 60 Chamber members and civic leaders recently visited the Bayou City to learn how Houston is dealing with some of those issues.
THE OKLAHOMA CITY DELEGATION RECEIVED AN ECONOMIC OVERVIEW FROM NOTED HOUSTON-AREA ECONOMIST DR. STEPHEN KLINEBERG. FOR THE PAST 38 YEARS, KLINEBERG’S HOUSTON AREA SURVEY HAS MEASURED THE LOCAL ECONOMY, SOCIAL ISSUES AND DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES. ARMED WITH THIS INSIGHTFUL PERSPECTIVE, THE VISITORS WERE THEN ABLE TO SEE FIRST-HAND SOME OF THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN HOUSTON AND OKLAHOMA CITY.
While Oklahoma City is in the midst of a MAPS-driven renaissance, Houston experienced many of the same negative economic factors that resulted in a concerted effort to diversify its economy, becoming less reliant on oil and gas, and investing in a better quality of life in an effort to attract and retain a qualified workforce. Much like the new downtown Scissortail Park is the crown jewel of OKC’s recognition that quality of life is a vital economic development component, Houston has Discovery Green, located in front of that city’s convention center. And while OKC now has a streetcar system and is exploring regional transit options, Houston has a light rail system and a network of dedicated high occupancy vehicle lanes, built primarily for its METRO bus service but also available to private vehicles with multiple occupants.The delegation also heard about the development of central Houston, economic development, workforce education and development, and the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world.
The similarities between the two cities are unmistakable. Except that OKC has far less traffic – and humidity!