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.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Redevelopment in Oklahoma City's Plaza District continues nearly a decade after Lyric Theatre took a chance on the ailing area.
The Plaza District, launched in the 1920s, was once a thriving center of commerce at the end of the trolley line. Shopkeepers served the neighborhood and the district had the Plaza Cinema Theatre, said to be the first air-conditioned theater in Oklahoma City.
By the late 1970s, many Plaza District businesses had closed and the area was littered with run-down buildings and frequented by transients, prostitutes and drug dealers.
Stretching from near N. Indiana Avenue on the west to N. Blackwelder Avenue on the east along NW 16th Street, the area is slowly shedding its derelict image.
While a few convenience stores and abandoned shops remain, several upscale businesses are establishing roots in the district. Among them is the Velvet Monkey Salon, set to open in May.
Estrella Evans, owner of Velvet Monkey, purchased the former New State Ice Co. building at 1711 N. Blackwelder Ave. in 2007 with plans to use it for both a shop and residence.
"I had been looking for a warehouse to live in," Evans said. "When I found that place it was perfect for a salon also."
Evans worked with Brian Fitzsimmons and Larry Pickering of Fitzsimmons Architects and Kenneth Fitzsimmons of TASK Design.
"The idea was to retain as much of the building's character as possible," Kenneth Fitzsimmons said.
The design incorporates the original 1927 red brick enhanced with modern artistic flair.
The Velvet Monkey moved from the NW 23rd Street space it has inhabited for 10 years.
Coffy's Café came to the Plaza District this month, occupying space at 1739 NW 16th St.
Next door to Velvet Monkey, Lindsay Zodrow in August opened Collected Thread, a handmade clothing and accessories store. Zodrow and her husband, Adam, live at the back of the store.
Lindsay Zodrow said she was not discouraged by the area's reputation.
"I was really excited about all the changes happening down here," she said. "By coming down here I'd have more of a chance to be part of what the Plaza District is becoming."
Lyric moved to Plaza District office space in 2000 after four moves in the preceding decade after some debate.
"We had a healthy discussion at the board meeting when we voted for it," said Paula Stover, executive director of Lyric Theater & Academy.
The Lyric board raised $10 million to fund the purchase of the Plaza District office space, the old movie theater and a former grocery store for the Thelma Gaylord Academy. The campaign also led to an endowment to keep the Lyric Theater's programs running.
Architect Rand Elliott designed the theater to keep much of the exposed brick in the lobby and add touches of