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 County commissioners voted Wednesday to help fund the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber's efforts to bring jobs to Tinker Air Force Base.
The county is giving the chamber $200,000, money left from a bond issue that helped purchase the old General Motors plant.
Chamber spokeswoman Cynthia Reid said the funds are used to work with base officials to determine what opportunities are available to bring private sector jobs to the base and to market those options to companies looking to expand.
Although base officials are willing to partner with private industry, it's up to local officials to aggressively pursue the jobs that can come with such partnerships.
"We're the only entity that is set up to make that happen," Reid said.
"Honestly, these are complicated opportunities. It's a very complicated system of what qualifies and what doesn't."
The county's decision came two days after a ribbon-cutting at the plant for the base's new repair and overhaul center. County voters approved a bond issue last year to purchase the plant, which was closed by GM in 2006.
At the ceremony Monday, officials announced 400 new jobs because of the facility.
About 800 people are expected to be working at the facility by the end of the year.
District 3 Commissioner Ray Vaughn said the ballot language allows the county to use leftover money for economic development, which is convenient given the decrease in revenue the county has seen as the recession has hit Oklahoma.
"Our general fund has been squeezed," Vaughn said. "In order for us to keep the economic development engine moving in the same direction that it was when we acquired the GM plant, this was an option that was available."
County officials sold $45 million of the $55 million in bonds approved to purchase the plant. The state kicked in $9 million, which means $10 million of the approved bonds won't go on county tax rolls.
County Treasurer Butch Freeman said the county has $487,000 left over from the $45 million in bonds that were sold.
That money is from expenses reimbursed by Tinker for after the sale, along with money the county has acquired from selling scrap steel that was pulled from the GM plant during its overhaul.