OKC Mayor speaks to WF leaders about downtown revitalization

Downtown Wichita Falls
Downtown Wichita Falls

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Russ Reynolds and Matt Bitsche invested in downtown a year ago when they announced they would be opening Wichita Falls Brewing Company.

"I guess we were just young and naive," Reynolds joked. "But also confident enough to put a lot of faith into the downtown effort."

They aren't the only ones confident in the future of downtown with businesses like Ganache and Half Pint on the way.

On Tuesday, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett spoke to these downtown owners and city leaders about how Oklahoma City revitalized their downtown, and how it can affect the future of a city.

He said it takes investors like Reynolds and Bitsche to begin the process.

"You never know exactly how much public involvement it's going to take before the private sector can take over and create a flourishing economic development success story," Mayor Cornett said. "But you just have to take it one step at a time."

Bitsche and Reynolds have both seen Oklahoma City's success story up close. Bitsche has family from the area, while Reynolds used to live there.

They said you have to make it a place your kids and grandkids want to live.

"People have to want to go downtown," Bitsche said. "It's not just about having an event and people making their way for the event. People have to want to go hang out downtown."

Mayor Cornett wants to tell his city's story to as many people as possible so they don't go through the struggles Oklahoma City did.

"You're not going to have businesses with high standards in a city with low standards," Mayor Cornett said. "And Oklahoma City learned that the hard way."

"I know Wichita Falls can achieve this," Bitsche said. "We've got a lot of minds working on this. We've got creative young people that are starting to get involved. It's just a matter of time."

"I hope that we are a very small part of the beginning of something very big," Reynolds said.

Mayor Cornett said he's encouraged with what's been done in downtown Wichita Falls so far and looks forward to seeing how it progresses.

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