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.
The state’s Quality Jobs Program is close to topping last year’s figures, and the program is just halfway through the 2012 fiscal year.
In December, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce accepted more Quality Jobs participants than in any month since the program was launched in 1993, said spokesman Dustin Pyeatt.
“Two reasons for those figures,” Pyeatt said. “The Commerce Department promotes the incentives and makes it a point to alert companies about the incentives. We hold workshops in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and walk these representatives through the process.”
Secondly, state business recruiters and economic development teams travel outside the state, talking up the incentives with company CEOs, he said.
Manufacturing continues to lead the way in the number of companies and jobs entering the incentive program, Pyeatt said.
“Manufacturing is the central focus of the program,” Pyeatt said. “Manufacturing accounted for more than half of the jobs created through the incentive program because many companies base their research and development operations in a central location.”
Companies must earn the incentives, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez said in a statement, and the program is performance-based.
“If a company doesn’t create any jobs, there are no incentive payments,” Pyeatt said. “If a company closes or moves outside Oklahoma, we stop incentive payments.”
No state money goes outside Oklahoma, Pyeatt said.
And the state Commerce Department expects results from Gov. Mary Fallin’s survey of state executives, Pyeatt said. The state received more than 5,300 surveys from business executives, he added.
“No state has ever done this before,” Pyeatt said. “This will be a powerful tool during the next session on how to craft incentive programs and drive legislation.”
The survey results will be released in conjunction with the opening of the legislative session in February, he said. The survey was designed to track economic issues the state can improve on and identify ways to support companies with economic development.
“We will see how Oklahoma is doing and where the state needs to go next,” Pyeatt said. “The survey results will be like a road map for state leaders.”
Since its inception, the Quality Jobs Program has issued more than 612 contracts to companies locating and expanding in the state, Pyeatt said in a statement. Startup businesses have brought thousands of jobs to Oklahoma, he said.
In the first six months of this fiscal year, which began on July 1, 26 companies enrolled, Pyeatt said, just eight short of the 34 that enrolled in all of 2011.
The average projected wage of jobs created through the QJP this year tops the state’s average job wage of $38,882 by 77 percent, Pyeatt said in a statement. The average so far in FY 2012 is $68,805.
Much of the gain in average wages is due to Boeing, Pyeatt said.
Boeing, which this month said it would move 800 jobs from Wichita and 100 jobs from the Seattle area to Oklahoma City, has already applied for benefits from the QJP for 462 jobs in FY 2011, Pyeatt said.
“Boeing has been a factor this year,” Pyeatt said. “First we accepted 207 jobs into the program, then another 255.”
During the first half of FY 2012, 85 percent of companies in the QJP were existing businesses that expanded in Oklahoma, according to a release. That amount topped the number of expanding businesses last year by 9 percent.
Startup companies entering the program through the first half of the fiscal year made up the other 15 percent, according to the release.