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.
"When I started my business 20 years ago, I always had the feeling that people were cheering for me to succeed. [We do] business in almost every state, but the people of Oklahoma are always the best to work with."
- David Box, Owner, Box Talent Agency
The Tulsa area jumped to No. 19 from No. 72 last year in the index, which ranks the country's 200 largest metro areas. Oklahoma City climbed to No. 26 from No. 50.
The index, which ranks metro areas based on their ability to create and sustain jobs, also ranks 124 of the smallest metro areas. The report is compiled with the help of Greenstreet Real Estate Partners.
"Both Tulsa and Oklahoma City didn't lose nearly as many jobs as anybody else. Both metros have been performing well over the past five years. Wages and salaries have both gone up," said Kevin Klowden, a managing economist for Milken, in a phone interview from Milken's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif.
Tulsa ranked No. 36 for its five-year job growth between 2003 and 2008 relative to the national average. It ranked No. 16 for its one-year job growth from 2007 to 2008.
From March 2008 to March 2009, Tulsa lost less than 0.25 percent of its jobs.
"Considering the depth of the recession around the country, that is remarkable," Klowden said.
The city's tech sector grew slightly during the five-year period from 2003 to 2008, and also the one-year period from 2007 to 2008.
"The reason that is significant is the rest of the country just didn't grow," Klowden said.
Tech-related expenditures are one of the first things companies drop when they don't have capital to spend. The fact that Tulsa remained relatively stable in this area is important and impressive, he said.
The report ranked the Tulsa area at No. 30 for its five-year high-tech sector output growth relative to the national average and No. 32 for its one-year high-tech sector output.
Over the last couple of years, both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas also have benefited from the energy industry. The best performers in the index are definitely an indicator of that, Klowden said.
Texas, for instance, claimed four of the top five spots in the large-metro rankings, with Austin-Round Rock at No. 1.
Both Oklahoma metros also have seen low foreclosure rates. Growth in the housing market has been steady rather than sudden, so the cyclical downturn in housing, residential construction and related areas has not been severe in Oklahoma, Klowden said.
The biggest decliners, including several cities in Florida and California, continue to experience the fallout from the housing meltdown, according to the report.
In addition, heavy losses in durable goods manufacturing and the ailing U.S. automotive industry have mired Michigan's metros among the country's weakest performers.
Best-performing large metropolitan areas