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.
NORMAN - A piece of German technology sold by a Norman pharmaceutical company has sparked the need for expansion into the city's business park.
Health Engineering Systems, founded by pharmacists Rob and Lisa Standridge, sells the Unguator, a modern-day equivalent of the mortar and pestle used by pharmacists over the centuries. Unguator, in German, means "to mix ointments," Rob Standridge said, and it simplifies the compounding process for busy pharmacists.
"It's like a malt machine - it mixes around and around and up and down, and you have to buy the patented jars to go with it," he said. "Pharmacists are very busy, and they have to take time away from other work to mix something. Our machine automates the process."
The Unguator is specifically designed for compounding lotions, creams and ointments, Standridge said. The machine comes in three sizes, but 80 percent of his clients use the middle-range Unguator, which costs about $2,500, he said. The large machine, which can hold up to 1,000 milliliters, runs $3,500, he said.
Standridge has sold about 5,000 of the Unguators to independent pharmacies, and he's broken into the chain world by selling to 800 Walgreen pharmacies, he said.
The primary use for the Unguator is hormone replacement creams and lotions, Standridge said. Pharmacists also compound creams or gels for hospice use, when patients often can't swallow a pill. The veterinary world also performs a lot of compounding to create dosages for animals of all sizes, he said.
The Unguator simplifies the compounding process for pharmacists because the machine carries out the bulk of the work, Standridge said. It has two motors - one on bottom moving the jar up and down and one on top spinning a mixing blade around.
"The blade touches the outer wall, so you don't lose anything," he said. "It touches the whole mix."
But the biggest benefit is the time it saves, Standridge said.
"The big problem has been that pharmacists would get started mixing something, then they would get called away," he said. "With our machine, the mixing takes a similar amount of time - about 10 to 20 minutes - but once you combine the ingredients and push a few buttons, you can go off and do other tasks. Smaller pharmacies especially would procrastinate doing big compounds because they would constantly get called away. Pharmacists are just too busy these days to process things manually."
The Unguator mixes prescriptions in the jar that is given to the patient; it only requires a label once it's done, Standridge said.
Jerrod Roberts, owner of Flourish Integrative Pharmacies in Oklahoma City, said he uses two Unguators in his compounding lab. He said the machines save him time and provide consistency.
"We send things off for quality control testing, and they always come back great," Roberts said. "We feel confident that it's being mixed consistently."
The design of the Unguator also leads to less contamination of the prescription at a patient's home, Standridge said. He conducted tests showing that when patients repeatedly dip their hands into a bottle to get the cream or ointment, the chance is higher for fungal growth. However, because the bottom of the Unguator bottle pushes up to the top - like a push-up Popsicle - there's no need for patients to dip in their hands.
Rob and Lisa Standridge started Health Engineering Systems in 2007 when they acquired the licensing for the Unguator technology, which he estimates is in 17,000 of Germany's 20,000 pharmacies. The couple are the only suppliers of Unguator products in North and South America, and he said they hope to one day manufacture them here.
They are building a 17,000-square-foot, $2.5 million facility to house their growing company in the Norman Business Park.
The expansion will house their other pharmaceutical ventures - a software and Web development company, RS Software, and LegendCare Pharmacy, which specializes in prescriptions for assisted-living centers, nursing homes and other institutional care.