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.
Q: Is clean air a significant issue in central Oklahoma?
A: Yes, and it is expected to become a much bigger issue later this summer. The central Oklahoma area is dangerously close to failing to meet the Environmental Protection Agency's ozone standard, also known as receiving a non-attainment designation. The status of the air quality in the metropolitan area not only has an impact on the health and welfare of our citizens, but also on our capacity to pursue economic development projects for the area. It also impacts our overall quality of life and our image.
Q: What impact does air quality have on the local economy?
A: Having a "dirty air" designation can hamper our ability to attract large employers that will require an air-quality permit to operate. It also stifles the process of building streets, roads and new infrastructure because it adds another level of regulatory review to every project. Consumers are hurt because most of the increased costs incurred by businesses will be passed on to them. It also hurts small businesses such as paint and body shops and dry cleaners because it may require new operational equipment.
Q: What is the Chamber (and others) doing to boost awareness about clean air?
A: We've always recognized the importance of maintaining our clean air standing with EPA and are now taking extra steps to make sure our members recognize that the Oklahoma City metropolitan area is precariously close to violating the clean air standards. The Central Oklahoma Regional Advocacy Alliance is hosting a Clean Air Forum June 17 at Oklahoma Christian University and the Greater OKC Chamber is serving as sponsor of that event. The forum will focus on the impact of a nonattainment designation for central Oklahoma and its business community. Information about this event can be found on the Chamber's Web site http://www.okcchamber.com/.
Q: Are clean air alert days becoming more frequent?
A: Because EPA's standards have become more stringent, it is likely that Alert Days will become more common. Alert Days are only predictive and don't necessarily correlate with high ozone readings. However, they generally indicate that ozone levels could be elevated, and because of the stricter standard, we may have many Ozone Days this summer. The region generally averages about seven a year.