Greater Oklahoma City is in the geographic center of North America equidistant from the east and west coasts and major trade partners of Canada and Mexico. The ten county region is at the crossroads of the U.S., sitting at the heart of three major national highways on the NAFTA corridor.
There's a reason Greater Oklahoma City is such a great place for business: Location. The ten county region is positioned within a day's drive of the rapidly-growing south-central region (OK, TX, AR, LA) projected to grow more than 44% during the next 25 years.
Noting low costs of living and good jobs, Forbes named Oklahoma City America's Most Affordable City.
At the height of the Great Recession, Forbes.com said Oklahoma City was the most recession-proof city in the country. Two and a half years later, the magazine has given the city another top ranking.
Noting low costs of living and good jobs, Forbes named Oklahoma City as America's Most Affordable City.
The magazine also noted Oklahoma City's friendly residents and an unemployment rate well below the national average, 6.3 percent compared to 9.5 percent.
"We searched for cities that had a balance of cheap living and economic prosperity - places with solid job markets, but where costs aren't prohibitive," magazine editors said. "In these cities, costs have stayed down, but residents have held onto steady incomes and decent jobs, making them a true bargain."
Forbes looked at all metropolitan statistical areas with populations of at least 100,000. They were ranked on the cost of a basket of goods and services, including groceries, health care and transportation, as of the second quarter of 2010.
The magazine also measured the monthly cost of housing as a percentage of household income.
The average sale price of an Oklahoma City-area home in September was $158,755, up 6.7 percent from September 2009, and the median price was $135,000, up 4.8 percent, according to the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors.
The next four spots on the Forbes list went to Pittsburgh; Buffalo, N.Y.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Nashville, Tenn. The top 10 also includes three Texas cities: San Antonio, Houston and Austin, along with Louisville, Ky., and Birmingham, Ala.
"State capitals and university towns have vibrancy because of their job base, the stability of jobs and cultural diversification," said James Gaines, a research economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
The ranking was the latest in a string of kudos for Oklahoma City. In October, Oklahoma City was named a Top 25 Performing City by the Milken Institute, No. 7 Best City for Income Growth by Portfolio.com, a Top 5 Fastest Growing City by Forbes and a Top 10 State for Doing Business by Area Development Magazine.
"In times like these, value is key to everything we do as a chamber," said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. "From attracting new business, retaining and fostering growth with our current companies to attracting conventions and visitors, the number one factor on everyone's mind is value. Affordability isn't always about being the cheapest, it is also about the quality you get for your dollar."
The Boeing Co. recently announced plans to move 550 high-paying engineering jobs here. The company cited low costs of living and doing business and economic development incentives in the decision to move the jobs from Long Beach, Calif.
OKLAHOMA CITY - A Volvo Rents construction equipment rental company is scheduled to open in Oklahoma City on Jan. 1, and the local franchisee plans to open other sites in Tulsa and Wichita, Kan.
David Evans, managing partner of WED LLC, is locating his Volvo Rents at 8003 S. Eastern Ave., along with partners Max Weldon and David Darby. The Tulsa site (the location has not been finalized) will open next summer. Evans has worked in the equipment rental business since 1984 and said he felt the time was right to start his own venture, backed by a prominent national brand.
"It's the best of both worlds," Evans said. "We get the large corporate footprint of Volvo, but the independence of a locally managed business."
Evans said he anticipates his customer base will include contractors for small companies, large independent general contractors, light industry, military bases and the oil and gas industry. Oklahoma has kept its slight growth in construction spending when other states' spending has dropped, he said. Projected construction spending in 2010 for the Oklahoma City market, which includes areas such as Ardmore and Lawton, is $5 billion, he said. The Tulsa market estimate is about $2.1 billion.
Evans said his Volvo Rents will be a general rental house with everything from backhoes and air compressors to mini-excavators and trenchers. He won't offer cranes or cater to homeowner customers, but is aiming for the small- to medium-sized contractors. If he doesn't have the specific piece of equipment that a customer needs, he can contact other Volvo franchises and re-rent what is needed.
In the early 1980s, most contractors bought their construction equipment, but when that ceased to be feasible, rental construction companies were born, Evans said.
"Buying construction equipment requires tremendous capital outlay," he said. "A company might buy a piece of equipment for $50,000, but only need it for three months out of the year. Rental companies bring the equipment to them, pick it up and perform the maintenance so there's no downtime. It's also tax-deductible."
Evans said the construction rental industry in America is 30 to 35 percent saturated, unlike Europe, where the market is 70 to 75 percent saturated. Oklahoma is particularly attractive because of its large military presence, anticipated road construction and oil and gas projects, he said, plus he gets to stay in the state where he was born and raised.
Although the store's hours will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., the company offers 24-hour service, every day of the week, Evans said. Some 70 percent of customers may never enter the store, but can arrange for the equipment to be delivered.
That local oversight is crucial to the Volvo Rents approach, said Nick Mavrick, vice president of marketing. Ten percent of a site's customers do 80 percent of the business, he said, and giving them a "VIP level of service" is paramount.
"The value for us is the local ownership model," Mavrick said. "The benefit to the customer is flexibility. They know they can call our staff at home if they have an emergency or something breaks."
According to Volvo's projections for 2009 to 2013, Oklahoma's market expansion for construction is 48 percent, Mavrick said. That made the time right for breaking into this market, despite the nation's overall economy, he said. Volvo Financial Services provides franchisees a financial package of about $5 million, he said.
Volvo Rents is a subsidiary of Volvo Construction Equipment, which is part of the Volvo Group. The Volvo Group is a publicly held company based in Gothenburg, Sweden.