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 CITY - A small bioscience company may make a revolutionary discovery that could alter the treatment course for a deadly disease.
But without partnerships with investors and pharmaceutical companies, the research might never make it out of the lab.
Members of Oklahoma's bioscience industry heard about successful partnerships Tuesday from several national leaders. The workshop was sponsored by OKBio, a nonprofit group that supports the state's cluster of bioscience companies.
"To help these companies grow, we're trying to provide them the information they need," said Robin Roberts Krieger, executive vice president of economic development, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. "Locally grown biotech companies tend to stay in the area, offer good-paying jobs and have a highly educated work force. Occasionally we can recruit in those businesses, but they are the types of companies we are looking to grow locally."
Dr. John "Wick" Johnson, senior director of worldwide business development for Pfizer Inc., said researchers need to attend biotech and pharmaceutical business meetings, of which there are 50 or more worldwide. During those gatherings, researchers and company leaders can pitch their concept to someone like Johnson, who can tell them if it's got a future.
"One thing that is underappreciated by companies is that you may think you're off the radar, but you're not," said Johnson, who earned his degrees at Oklahoma State University.
Smaller startup companies tend to have the tenacity to stick with an idea, even if they're told no by big pharmaceutical companies, Johnson said.
"They will usually try a different approach because of the resources they've put into it and their belief in it," he said. "In many cases, they will come up with something that gives them proof of concept in an animal model."
Johnson said the future of biotech startups may be in the fallout from mergers and acquisitions. Pfizer, when it merged with Parke-Davis, closed a large facility in Michigan and let go many employees, he said. The same consolidation will happen now that Pfizer has bought Wyeth, he said. If former staff members from the acquired companies can raise the money to get started, they will be viable biotech companies, he said.
In Oklahoma, the potential is good as well, Krieger said. The opportunities in Ardmore and Stillwater lean more toward plant and animal science, she said, and in Oklahoma City, it's life and human sciences, because of nearby entities like the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.