Stillwater is a forward-thinking community for people seeking the influence of a major university but also desiring the intimacy of a smaller town. It's alive with a youth spirit, new thinking and smiling faces.
Reporter James Fallows detailed in The Atlantic some markers that indicate if a city will be or is successful. According to that article, Stillwater is a successful city.
First, residents know who their local patriots are. In a successful city, residents know who to call, who to go to, who leaves things in better shape than they were before. We are a community that likes to say: “How can we make this better? What can we do by being creative, by being innovative, and by being collaborative?”
Economic growth is a primary responsibility for city leaders, and within city government that falls to the Stillwater Economic Development Authority which provides direction, guidance and leadership.
Second, successful cities have real downtowns. We've seen tremendous progress throughout our downtown over the past decade.
There's been an increase in the diversity of development: more apartments, more beautification and more pedestrian traffic. A downtown with lights on after dark means it has crossed a decisive threshold and should continue to survive.
Third, public-private partnerships are real. We are also a community that knows and understands Stillwater’s natural, human and financial resources. We like to come together to achieve something important.There are many successful joint projects between the schools, not-for-profits and government agencies.
Fourth, successful cities are near a research university. Research universities have become the modern counterparts to a natural harbor or a river confluence.
Universities lift the economy by bringing in a student population.Universities transform a town through the researchers and professors they attract. Research universities have become powerful start-up incubators. A good example of this in Stillwater is the research for unmanned aerial systems and bioengineering and their impact on area businesses.
It is impossible to tell the story of Stillwater and not include Oklahoma State University. As OSU President Burns Hargis likes to say,
"What is good for Stillwater is good for the University; and what is good for the University is good for Stillwater."
Fifth, successful cities have big plans. Big plans come to life only with the foresight and sheer willpower of city leaders and support from our community partners.
Water 2040. Water 2040 is a multi-year, multimillion dollar project to upgrade Stillwater’s water distribution system. So far, the City has added two water towers, several booster stations and is the middle of constructing more than 20 miles of water lines.
Stillwater Energy Center. After years of planning, the Stillwater Energy Center on Airport Road held its grand opening in 2016. The energy center now provides a reliable infrastructure, grid independence and competitive electric rates that help promote Stillwater's economic growth. With this 70-million dollar facility, the City took proactive steps to provide clean energy to its customers and continues to support the national effort to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and fuel oil for energy production.
Commercial air flight from Stillwater Regional Airport. This development was med possible because of the unwavering commitment from our biggest and closest partner, OSU. Commercial air flight improves the quality of life for Stillwater residents and has a powerful impact on our economic development activities.
Sixth, the last marker for successful cities and, perhaps the most reliable, is that they have a craft brewery. What a craft brewery means is that a city can attract a certain kind of entrepreneur and the critical mass of mainly young customers.
It takes thoughtful planning and an ambitious agenda to make a city attractive to investors and to recruit and keep a talented workforce. Stillwater is up for the challenge.