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.
All new companies start with an idea. When angel investors put their money into a company, they give that idea a chance to generate a business. These businesses generate revenue. That revenue generates jobs. Those jobs create revenue for Oklahoma.
About 10 of every 100 entrepreneurial ideas that i2E sees actually develop into businesses. About one in 10 of those businesses demonstrates the potential to create and sustain quality jobs and create new wealth for Oklahoma.
The tipping point for this economic impact is about five years.
Within the first couple of years after angel investment, such new companies typically will launch a single product, create three new jobs, and produce around $100,000 in revenue. In i2E's experience, entrepreneurial businesses that become successful companies average 18 jobs and produce seven products with revenue of $3 million or more.
Most of these companies have their roots in the science and technology sectors. They pay higher than average wages and offer significant economic leverage by serving from markets outside the state. Oklahoma angel investment led Oklahoma City-based Search and Clear to develop its document collaboration technology in Oklahoma rather than California.
That's an economic development slam dunk.
But economic benefits aren't the only reason angel investment is important to Oklahoma.
From the supply chain interaction between new businesses and other companies, to exciting job opportunities for the graduates of Oklahoma's colleges and universities, to the feet on the street going to Bricktown for dinner or a basketball game, an entrepreneurial economy makes Oklahoma more vibrant and a better place to live.
Angel investors tend to work out of the spotlight behind the scenes. You may not see them, but when entrepreneurial companies appear and succeed, you know they are there. And when angels are there, Oklahoma benefits.
Tom Walker is President and CEO of i2E, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based start-up companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.