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 -- When MAPS-3 finally shows up on voting ballots -- before the end of the year, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said -- the temporary sales tax issue will likely represent a wide range of projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The question of exactly what projects city residents will be asked to support is yet to be decided, but it appears at least two Core to Shore elements will be included, he said. And because of their place in the city, they may even seem to be the heart of the initiative.
A massive redevelopment just south of downtown Oklahoma City is already under way as a two-mile stretch of the Interstate 40 crosstown is being constructed closer to the Oklahoma River. Once traffic is diverted to the new I-40, the old Interstate bridge will be razed and that thoroughfare converted to a main boulevard. City leaders describe all the projects planned to revitalize the zone as Core to Shore.
"We know Interstate 40 is going to be relocated," Cornett said. "It's more evident every day. . . . And you can see that 2012, when they expect to finish, is going to be here before you know it."
"We know we're going to be able to fund the boulevard using largely state money and then add some improvements of our own to make that the most special street this state has ever seen," he said. "It will be the premier address in Oklahoma."
"When you look at Oklahoma City with fresh eyes . . . and look around the country at other cities, what does Oklahoma City still lack to ascend to a new level?" said Cornett. "I think there are two elements: There's public transit, that we do not fund and do not serve our citizens adequately. And then there's a large gathering space downtown. We really need a Central Park that we can be proud of."
The money needed to fund such a park, a new convention center nearby, and a fixed railway transportation system brings C2S to the intersection with MAPS-3.
The original MAPS, or Metropolitan Area Projects, was strongly approved by public vote in 1993 when residents established a 1-cent, five-year sales tax to fund nine projects, including the construction of the Bricktown Ballpark, renovation of the Cox Business Services Convention Center, and development of the Oklahoma River. A second package identified as Metropolitan Area Public Schools, or MAPS for Kids, kept that penny in play when voters easily passed two initiatives to fund local school districts. Seventy percent of revenue generated from that sales tax went to Oklahoma City Public Schools for the construction of new buildings, technology and other improvements.
Together, the two MAPS initiatives directly yielded more than $800 million in taxes. So the MAPS identification has been considered by many city leaders as an invaluable brand name.