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 - Oklahoma City University is planning a $9.4 million building expansion to its nursing school.
Plans are for the school to add 50,000 square feet to the existing 16,000-square-foot facility.
"We have been expanding and growing so rapidly in terms of students and faculty. We had outgrown our current little building about three years ago," said Marvel Williamson, dean of the Kramer School of Nursing at OCU.
The expansion consists of a three-story building with a connecting plaza to the current nursing school. The facility will have the capability to house nine additional classrooms and six large seminar rooms. In addition, there will be two large nursing labs that will have simulation patients for the nursing students to practice with.
Williamson said investing in the facility is one way OCU is helping to curb the nursing shortage.
If current trends continue, Oklahoma is anticipated to have a shortage of about 3,000 nurses by 2012, according to a study by the Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Center and the Oklahoma Hospital Association.
But the nursing shortage is not because of a lack of interest in the field.
Last year, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 40,000 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs because of a shortage of faculty and other factors, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
When Williamson joined the OCU nursing faculty in 2001, the school had 72 students. Now the school has more than 300 students.
Williamson said part of that growth is because the school accepts all qualified, eligible students. State schools can only take a certain amount of students, and as a result many qualified applicants end up on a waiting list. But as a private university, OCU has higher tuition than other universities.
Still, Williamson said avoiding the waiting list can provide long-term value for students.
"They are able to get out quicker and start making money, which helps them afford that higher tuition," she said. "I think that is why we are growing as well. People understand the economic principle."
The current facility is designed for about 100 students.
When the school started utilizing other university classrooms, Williamson said it became apparent there was a need for expansion.
To date, the school has raised a total of $6.1 million for the project, with the Inasmuch Foundation awarding the school a $1 million grant toward the building expansion.
Though the $1 million is a step toward construction, Williamson said they will not begin the project until they raise all the money.
"We hope to start very soon," she said. "Raising money right now is difficult, but the new grant is a significant step jump for us."
Sheryl McLain, executive director of the Oklahoma Health Care Workforce Center, said she thinks the OCU facility expansion will help address the health care work force need.
While many schools are looking into expanding capacity, McLain said troubled economic times makes it difficult to obtain the money needed for those projects.
OCU's initiative to expand is encouraging, said McLain.
"The key issue is we need more faculty members to teach," she said. "We need more facilities and classrooms."