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.
Quest Diagnostics is a $7 billion company with laboratories across the country. But Chief Executive Officer Surya Mohapatra is the first to say the company's upcoming expansion in Oklahoma City is an exception to its current operations.
Construction of a $16 million home for Diagnostic Laboratories of Oklahoma, a Quest subsidiary, is set to begin in spring near Britton Road and Broadway Extension, with completion in 2011.
"The Diagnostic Laboratories of Oklahoma has done tremendously well," Mohapatra said."The people of Oklahoma have shown how you can grow, that it doesn't matter what's going on with the economy. They're helping patients, and they're making the company grow. So, it's time to invest in the facilities."
The company's current home, along the Interstate 40 and Meridian Avenue hotel corridor, is split between two office buildings; people must cross a side street to go from the administrative offices to the lab space.
"We've got about 10 pounds of groceries in a 5-pound bag," Mosteller said. "Our growth has been unexpected. We've been wildly successful. Our reputation as a quality provider has us working with a lot of physicians."
The new facility will span 70,000 square feet, compared to DLO's current home that has 46,000 square feet.
Mosteller said the site will be behind the McBride Clinic and next to the future Thunder practice facility. Once complete, the building also will be home to cytology programs that currently are housed away from the DLO offices.
The expansion coincides with an overhaul being contemplated for the nation's health care system, an overhaul that doesn't worry Mohapatra.
Before being named Quest chief executive, Mohapatra spent years researching cardiovascular science, diagnostic imaging and testing.
When the H1N1 flu outbreak first hit and the genetic code was identified, Mohapatra said his scientist developed a test within 10 days. More recently, the company developed a saliva test to measure the effectiveness of the blood thinner Plavix.
"There are a million people who get the stent," Mohapatra said. "And they are on this blood thinner. For 30 percent, it doesn't work. So, you need genetic testing to see if it works. And this is a saliva test, so you don't have to draw blood. It can be done at home, and this will change the level of care. Without this test, you might think the Plavix is working, and if it's really not, you can get a clot."
Such advancements won't be deemed less necessary under the health care legislation being contemplated by Congress, Mohapatra said.
"More people will be covered, and there may be more pressure on the industry. But with the number to be covered, and with the emphasis on wellness and prevention, it will be a net positive for us," Mohapatra said.
"One thing that isn't going to change is people aren't going to stop getting older," Mohapatra said. "And as people get older, they're going to need more diagnostic testing. If you catch a disease in its early stages, you can stop it."