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.
Bricktown leaders did some strutting Wednesday, unveiling a new Web site, plans for free wireless Internet and a campaign for the charity group Limbs for Life.
State and city officials spoke of the entertainment district's impact on regional and national impressions as they gathered for the first "State of Bricktown" meeting, held on the rooftop patio of Nonna's restaurant.
Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, who heads the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission, said she expects Bricktown to thrive despite the economic downturn. She said Bricktown is the city's top attraction.
"A slower economy typically results in people staying closer to home for shorter weekend trips, instead of taking long distance vacations," Askins said. "That means more Oklahomans and residents of surrounding states will look to Bricktown as their getaway destination."
Selling the district
Jim Cowan, director of the Bricktown Association, said the district is banding together to increase awareness and lure more retailers to its old brick warehouses.
A Web site, established through Griffin Marketing Solutions and @Link, went live Wednesday and provides a three-dimensional map and images of the district's restaurants, shops, hotels, clubs and attractions.
Cowan also reported the association, working with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, soon will be publishing and distributing nationwide a brochure detailing space available to buy or lease.
He also will be part of a city delegation attending an upcoming conference of the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Retail on the way
Cowan said the top question about parking in Bricktown has been replaced with "Where are the shops?"
Cowan said retail is coming to the area.
"The days of Bricktown just being a district with restaurants and nightclubs are long behind us," Cowan said of the district.
Cowan said the campaign for Limbs for Life will be launched over the next few months, starting with promotional materials to be placed in district restaurants. He said the wireless Internet should be up by this summer.
Cowan said the district also is working on a plan to honor Bricktown's founding father, Neal Horton, who died in 1992, and longtime promoter Jim Brewer, who died last year.
Cowan said he never knew Horton, but could "only imagine how he would feel if he were here today."