Oklahoma's Rose

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Broken Arrow Mayor Craig Thurmond received the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 2018 Livability Award in June.

13 is not an unlucky number for Broken Arrow. That’s the number of years it’s taken to implement and develop what is known as the Rose District – the city’s arts and entertainment area in the historic heart of the city. And, it has not gone unnoticed. Mayor Craig Thurmond recently accepted the 2018 Livability Award at the 86th U.S. Conference of Mayors honoring Broken Arrow’s Rose District. The award, which recognizes mayoral leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America’s cities, was a tough competition between more than 150 other cities.

“Receiving the City Livability Award is a tremendous honor for Broken Arrow,” says Thurmond. “Not so long ago, Main Street was almost derelict, with very few businesses and zero foot traffic.

“Today, residents and visitors will find a vibrant downtown with unique restaurants, local artisan products, entertainment and cultural experiences that have transformed our Rose District into one of the most popular destinations in the region,” boasts Thurmond. “We have people coming in from Oklahoma City, Northwest Arkansas and other nearby metro areas just to visit the Rose District, not to mention the people who live here, who may have once gone to downtown Tulsa for their entertainment.”  Driving down Main Street is a feast for the senses. There are artistic murals, a weekend farmer’s market, a 1,200-square foot interactive water feature, a top-notch performing arts center, music, wide sidewalks for outdoor dining and something new virtually each time you visit downtown. And, the transformation has begun affecting the housing near the district as well. Just take a stroll in the vicinity to see some of the renovated homes.

“Our city really took a risk and had the foresight to see what they wanted their city to be,” adds Thurmond, who credits Broken Arrow citizens for keeping the quaint feeling of Broken Arrow but allowing the city to grow with big-city conveniences. “And although there has been major growth in the city, it’s also been voted the ninth safest city in the country by Business Insider. “People feel safe here and the transformation of the Rose District has really brought the city back to life,” says Thurmond.

You’d never know over the years the area had become a neglected and economically challenged area. But with expenditures of more than $25 million, many new businesses invested in the heart of the city and it not only elevated the quality of life for the surrounding residents, but brought more than 1,000 new jobs and more than 70 new businesses into that area alone. Over the last six years, new development has resulted in a nearly $4 million increase in property taxes and a more than 2,000% increase in sales tax revenue.

Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the Conference of Mayors, is grateful to give the award, because, “It gives us the chance to express our pride in cities’ mayoral leadership in making urban areas cleaner, safer and more livable.”

This is the 39th year in which cities from across the nation have competed for the award, which is sponsored by the Conference of Mayors and Waste Management, Inc., the nation’s largest environmental solutions provider.

Earlier this year, the Broken Arrow Rose District was recognized by USA Today as one of the 50 top charming main streets in the USA.

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