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Experts Gather in Oklahoma City to Discuss How Parks Impact Businesses and Quality of Life

SOURCE: National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

Three-day event organized by the National Recreation and Park Association and Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation

Ashburn, Va. (May 3, 2018) — Business experts and park leaders from across the country will gather in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 16–18, 2018, to discuss how parks and recreation makes an impact on regional economic competitiveness and quality of life. Organized by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in collaboration with Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation(OKC Parks), the three-day NRPA Innovation Lab, titled How Communities Can Attract Businesses: Parks Making the Case for Quality of Life, will explore how the private sector views parks and recreation, and what tools and funding is available to ensure parks and recreation continues to drive economic development and attract businesses, talent and visitors.

“Parks provide tremendous health and environmental benefits; however, they are also powerful engines of economic activity,” said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA president and CEO. “Operations and capital spending for local parks generates more than $154 billion dollars in economic activity and supports more than 1.1 million jobs. In addition, parks are a key element of a community’s quality of life, which we know is critical to attracting and retaining companies and talent.” 

“Oklahoma City has come to the forefront of national attention proving that investments in quality of life for residents can spur economic growth,” said Doug Kupper, Oklahoma City’s director of parks and recreation. “Oklahoma City residents have repeatedly approved new parks and recreation improvements through various bond and tax initiatives validating the important role parks play in promoting better overall health, wellness and social equity.”

“Oklahoma City broke ground last year on Scissortail Park, a 70-acre, $132 million project the likes of which our city has never seen,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “Underutilized land in the heart of our city is being transformed into tree-covered nature trails, massive playgrounds, a large grassy concert venue, sports fields and an urban lake, perfect for paddle boating. This ambitious community investment is spurring new development along the park’s borders and will, within just a few years, redefine Oklahoma City.”

Using Oklahoma City and other cities as models, attendees will discuss:

  • Best practices around how parks and recreation contribute to a region’s quality of life and how private-sector entities view parks from a competitive economic lens
  • How parks can better integrate into regional/city economic development planning, and identify novel funding sources for parks and recreation through economic development activities

The event will feature several notable speakers, including:

  • Former Oklahoma City Mayor, Mick Cornett
  • Oklahoma City Mayor, David Holt

Business experts from BancFirst, American Fidelity Foundation, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and the Oklahoma City Community Foundation will participate in a panel discussion on how the private sector views quality-of-life investments. Furthermore, representatives from Say Yes to Dallas, Roanoke Parks and Recreation, Roanoke Regional Partnership and Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company will provide a community perspective on business retention and attraction. Dr. Terry Clower from the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University will lead a special session on parks and quality of life.       

A copy of the agenda is available here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit www.nrpa.org.  

To learn more about OKC Parks, visit www.okc.gov/departments/parks-recreation.

About the National Recreation and Park Association 
The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.

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