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 dismal economy will not keep Will Rogers World Airport from taking a longer perspective -- 20 years out -- for continued growth, Airport Director Mark Kranenburg said.
"We should always be planning for the future," Kranenburg said. "You have to remember that last March we didn't have any gates available and we couldn't bring in anybody new. Now we've got a few gates and we're working hard to fill those up.
"My view is that this thing could turn around to the positive as quickly as it turned around to the negative," he said.
Airport authorities will hold a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss the airport's future. The meeting will be in the airport's conference room near the east security point on the second floor of the terminal.
Long-term master plans are not unusual; they provide an agency with projections and a general guide over several years so officials don't have to make hasty, unnecessarily expensive decisions later, Kranenburg said.
"Public participation is an important facet of the airport's planning process," Kranenburg said. "Both Oklahoma City and Will Rogers World Airport have changed a lot in recent years. The master plan allows us to validate previous planning concepts and determine future projects to meet customer demand."
Will Rogers is home to 67 companies, including the Federal Aviation Administration's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, the Federal Bureau of Prisons Transfer Center, Southwest Airlines Reservation Center and Metro Tech's Aviation Career Center. Commercial carriers average about 70 departures each day, and more than 4 million passengers travel through Will Rogers World Airport annually.
Kranenburg recently attended an air service industry conference where he heard from peers that business in cities such as Austin and San Antonio, Texas, isn't being hit too badly by the recession.
"Oklahoma City still generates 80 percent of the economic development of the state. We created jobs in 2008 and we anticipate more in 2009," he said. "Every airline that I talked to last week was very positive about Oklahoma City and are looking to our city for opportunities."
Will Rogers' latest plans will be supported with market research from consultant Barnard Dunkelberg & Co. Kranenburg said officials will consider an east concourse expansion similar to the western addition that happened a few years ago and an automobile parking study.
For 2008, the airport saw passenger boardings drop half a percentage point over 2007. Kranenburg said he expects that drop to level out soon and to grow again over the next few years. Airlines across the country are making economic adjustments by reducing their flights or adjusting plane sizes to meet local market demands.
"Where we are cautious is recognizing whether airline flights have decreased and how many daily passenger seats are available each day -- that impacts our revenues. So we're cautious as far as fiscal responsibility.. . .But continued growth is still important."