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 ProCure Proton Therapy Center is set to open in northwest Oklahoma City in July, but the center currently doesn't have too many neighbors.
There is a need for businesses around the center, and one of the most immediate needs is for cancer patients and their families to have a place to stay during treatment, especially if they are from out of town.
"There is going to be a need for a hotel or lodging facility," said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. "The obvious development is some kind of extended-stay."
To serve that need, construction on a 120-room Hawthorn Suites is set to begin later this summer and will be located south of the cancer center.
Irmon Gray, with NAI Sullivan Group, said the hotel is being developed and built by Oklahoma investors BEKM Holdings LLC. The hotel is designed to be an extended-stay with shuttle service to and from the cancer center.
The hotel is part of a development called MacArthur Crossing at the southeast corner of Memorial Road and MacArthur Boulevard. Completion on the first office building at the 18-acre site is set for completion in September when Pete Swan moves his dental practice.
Susan Davis Jordan, with NAI, is handling marketing for the project, and said Arby's and Carl's Jr. plan to begin work on restaurants at the site later this year. The price per square foot on the buildings ranges from $185 to about $205. The developers are not planning any speculative buildings and with the slowdown in the market do not have immediate plans for additional buildings.
Williams said he hopes the cancer center will encourage development in the area, particularly to serve the center's employees, patients and families.
"You're going to see a gradual development of that whole area, a lot of which will pertain to people directly tied to treatment at those facilities," he said.
Brent Conway, with CB Richard Ellis Oklahoma, said the center will likely help support retail and hotel businesses in the area, but likely will not spur any new medical office buildings, with most of the work at the center being self-contained.
"I don't know that there's going to be a tremendous drive for MOB clustering as a result of the ProCure center," Conway said. "But a center like ProCure is going to be a very attractive anchor to any type of future development."
The center will be the sixth proton therapy center in the United States and will be on the Integris Cancer Institute Campus. ProCure is part of the Indiana-based ProCure Treatment Centers, founded in 2005.