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.
by Steve Lackmeyer
Just three years ago, the stretch of NW 9 just east of Broadway was a blighted mess lined with boarded up houses masked by overgrown brush and trees and homeless folks living in parked cars.
Now, the street is home to a popular restaurant, a cupcake bakery and soon a home accessories gift shop, photography studio, sushi restaurant and even a Christmas tree lot.
Those moving into one of the homes include a contractor who initially urged property owners to tear them down.
Adam and Brittany Branscum got their first glimpse of the street soon after the opening of the Iguana Mexican Grill at 9 NW 9.
When they saw white boxes coming into the restaurant from Sara Sara Cupcakes next door, they capped off their meal with some desert and then inquired about vacant land for sale across the street.
Developer Steve Mason had already bought the lot, but he asked Adam Branscum, a contractor, to bid on renovating the dilapidated houses at 3 NW 9 and 1 NW 9.
"There was water and fire damage," Adam Branscum said. "We had to redo the foundations. The left side of one home had rotted out."
Branscum provided two bids - one to renovate the houses, the other to tear them down. He urged Mason to consider the second bid - a recommendation Mason declined.
"They should have been torn down," Adam Branscum said. "The first time I stepped on the porch, I fell through."
Flash forward several months, and it's the Branscums who have caught Mason's vision for the strip and are opening BD Home home furnishings and gift shop in the same house Adam Branscum sought to raze.
Brittany Branscum graduated with an interior design degree, but burn-out after college led her to work as a contract land acquisition agent for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
"I needed a change in scenery," Brittany Branscum said. "But now I've come back to what I love - and this is something I always wanted to do."
The Branscums already were urban dwellers, having lived in a modern home in the nearby Oklahoma Health Center for the past three years. Brittany Branscum said she first looked for potential shop locations in Bricktown before being courted by Mason to open her business in one of the houses being renovated by her husband.
The old house, she said, helps accentuate the modern furnishings and gifts inside.
"We're doing classic modern design furniture with new modern furniture," Brittany Branscum said. "We want to expand people's horizons."
She said she also hopes to provide a place for downtown-area residents to shop for gifts and accessories. She has spent the past week stocking shelves with lights, place mats, glassware and serving pieces and setting up displays of furniture,