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.
The new federal stimulus bill is expected to directly influence business at one longtime Oklahoma City manufacturer that has for almost 90 years produced products aimed at making homes more weather-resistant.
Privately owned M-D Building Products, the former Macklanburg-Duncan Co., has for decades designed, manufactured and marketed residential and commercial weatherproofing products.
But demand for its weather stripping, caulking and pipe insulation is expected to increase during the next year from the $5 billion allocated to state programs aimed at improving housing in low-income areas and increased tax credits to homeowners for weatherproofing their homes.
"The stimulus plan hits right at our sweet spot," said Loren Plotkin, M-D Building Products' president and chief executive officer. "This bill provides the incentives and financing, as well as the motivation, for Americans to weatherproof their homes."
The company employs more than 400 people and sells 3,500 products, producing about 70 percent of them in its 500,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility on N Santa Fe Avenue, said Andrea Welsh, director of corporate development. And management is looking to make even more locally, she said.
A second 40-employee plant in Gainsville, Ga., produces interior and exterior caulk marketed under two brand names.
M-D Building's door thresholds, window insulation kits, air conditioning covers, water heater insulated blankets and dozens of other products and tools are sold at Lowe's, Home Depot and Westlake Ace hardware stores, Plotkin said. The company maintains a 10,000 distributorship base.
How will it help?
The effects of the stimulus plan are two-fold, Plotkin said.
The first installment of the $5 billion available will arrive in April and will be channeled from the state Commerce Department to local agencies administering the Weatherization Assistance Program.
Secondly, homeowners will be eligible for energy tax credits from 10 to 30 percent on energy-efficient improvements.
To provide information on the assistance program and guidelines on products and energy-saving projects for contractors and consumers, M-D Building Products helped develop a new Web site -- weatherizationsource.com -- that details those topics.
"The sheer fact that weatherization is included in the stimulus bill validates the significant energy savings we can realize in both summer and winter months," he said.
"Homeowners can save energy and money by taking some very simple and inexpensive steps such as properly sealing doors and windows with weather strips, thresholds and caulk."
And according to the U.S. Energy Department, weatherproofing a home can reduce heating bills by 32 percent and overall energy bills by $358 per year.
Westlake Ace hardware stores have seen an increased demand in the products, said Brian Barbee, the retailer's Oklahoma district manager.