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.
The Oklahoma secretary of commerce told a House committee Nov. 17 that right now is the best time to market Oklahoma.
Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Natalie Shirley spoke to the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee during an interim study on marketing the state.
State Rep. T.W. Shannon, who requested the study, said he thinks that the crucial role marketing plays in drawing jobs and industry to the state makes it an important investment even in a tight budget year.
"The state is doing an incredible job of marketing itself, but there is more that we could do," Shannon, R-Lawton, "All three speakers who presented today showed that we are getting a return on our investment. Even in a tight budget year, it is crucial to continue to work to bring high-quality jobs for Oklahomans to the state."
Shirley said that because of how well Oklahoma is faring the recession compared to its neighbors, now is the time to attract industry to the state. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is planning to spend $3 million in a media campaign to reach C-level executives -- CEOs, CFOs, etc. -- with a 13-week schedule promoting the state that includes advertising on national TV networks.
The secretary also noted that Oklahoma City has recently made the top of lists 26 times recently - lists like best-recession proof city and best place to start a small business. One problem the state has is that many business executives do not have a mental image of Oklahoma, a problem she is hoping the 13-week media campaign will solve.
For every tourism dollar spent, the state saw a $54.46 return in 2009, according to Hardy Watkins, executive director of the state Tourism and Recreation Department.
"Clearly, if we are getting that kind of a return on our investment, it's worth it," Shannon said. "Though the secretary of commerce did not ask for a specific amount, she said it is important that lawmakers continue to keep marketing in mind when crafting the state budget next session. I, for one, believe it would be a good investment."