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.
Tucked away at Oklahoma's waterways, air traffic hubs and industrial parks are its foreign trade zones, those U.S. Customs duty management programs that are boosting the state into playing a bigger and better role in the global economy.
Status as a foreign trade zone "is a sophisticated business tool" that allows companies that import and export to source, manufacture and distribute products cost effectively, said Matthew Weaver, chief administrator and director of marketing and business development for the Port Authority of Greater Oklahoma City.
The zones were created in the 1930s to encourage economic growth by the federal government in response to the Great Depression, Weaver said. Each site is a designated area considered outside of U.S. Customs territory where duties on merchandise can be de- ferred, reduced or, in some cases, eliminated.
The state has four major zones - the Port of Catoosa, the Port of Muskogee, the Port of Greater Oklahoma City at Will Rogers International Airport, and at the International Business Park in Durant.
Under the umbrella of those four zones, there are a number of subzone sites across the state.
Foreign trade zones are either public or private, and designated for single user or general purpose status.
The zones facilitate trade and increase the global competitiveness of U.S.-based companies, Weaver said, lowering inventory costs, providing distribution savings and drastically decreasing the cost of doing business.
His area covers the central portion, or about a third of the state, and his mission is to inform companies and communities about the benefits while helping them apply and qualify for the status.
"It's been around for a long time," he said, and today, as companies look at ways to trim costs while expanding operations, "we've got plants all over the state looking to get this designation."
Cities, too, can apply. The city of Shawnee wants its airport to be certified as a subzone. Enid also is applying, Weaver said.
When companies outside Oklahoma look to expand operations in the Midwest, he said, offering foreign trade zones is critical. "If you don't have them, you're not on the short list. It's a huge incentive for importers, and for Oklahoma City, it's a great retention tool."
There are 11 subzones in the state, "and there should probably be three times that many," he said.
In Mustang, IG Manufacturing is the latest Oklahoma location to be certified for the program.
It wasn't easy, said Dwight Perkins, IG's president, and it took four years for the company to receive subzone status.