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.
I felt a sense of Oklahoma pride as 300 professional fund managers and economic development officers from across the nation gathered in our state last month for the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds annual conference.
Led by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and a coalition of local organizations, the NASVF brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state's economy and delivered an encouraging message to Oklahoma innovators and entrepreneurs.
The three-day conference focused on the significance of making angel capital and seed funds available to entrepreneurial startup companies.
This is an important topic since many startup companies are developing new products that are in too early of a stage to be underwritten by bank financing, so they must find risk capital to survive. This type of money typically comes from the region where the company resides; therefore private angel investors and seed funds need to be cultivated locally to grow these promising small businesses.
By the conference's adjournment, best practices and investment strategies were shared in dozens of breakout sessions. Participants learned that "deal flow" remains strong, meaning the number of new entrepreneurial business opportunities has maintained a steady pace during our nation's economic challenges.
For Oklahoma, this national conference was a huge success - attendance, speakers, topics covered and especially increased visibility for Oklahoma on the investing landscape.
Oklahoma has another opportunity to showcase itself this month at the Oklahoma Venture Forum's Bricktown Capital Conference and the Venture of the Year awards dinner. Oklahoma companies making investor presentations represent a wide range of innovation, from computerized exercise equipment to high-tech legal document software to a medical technology to cure hearing loss.
It all goes to show that the deal flow pipeline in Oklahoma remains strong and is attracting national attention from savvy investors.
Oklahoma entrepreneurs, start your pitches.
Did you know?
Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce created the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to maximize the economic potential of new ideas. The office will focus specifically on issues critical to the creation and development of entrepreneurship ecosystems that will generate new businesses and jobs. Result? Increased local support for Oklahoma researchers, entrepreneurs and investors.