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.
Selexys Pharma-ceuticals recently secured $3.5 million in venture capital seed money and an equal amount in grants, including the largest Small Business Innovation Research grant ever to an Oklahoma company, Chief Executive Scott Rollins said Monday.
And a lot of that money came from within the medical industry for a change, he said.
Typically a lot of early-stage funding in these ventures comes from the oil and gas industry," he said. "But what's unique about our efforts is that so much of our money came from private physicians, a pretty unusual group of angel investors and something that's been relatively untapped around here.
"We tried to target investors who were very well educated about the kinds of drugs that we're developing and the science and medicine behind those drugs. We met with groups of docs around Oklahoma City and Norman, and once they heard about the science and our programs, they were very excited about the prospects and wanted to invest," he said. "It was a reasonably easy sell."
Selexys is an Oklahoma City-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of antibody therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. The company has generated highly specific inhibiting agents and is rapidly moving toward the human clinical trial stage for the treatment of Crohn's disease and sickle cell disease. The SBIR grant of $3.2 million will be applied to the development of the latter, Rollins said.
The majority of private funds came from so-called angel investors whom Rollins wouldn't identify, with the remaining $1 million provided by the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund operated by Tom Walker and the Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund operated by William Paiva. The company was aiming for a minimum target of $2.2 million, Rollins said, so the money from those two capital funds was a surprise.
"For a biotech company, it's pretty significant in this state," Rollins said. "We pretty much maxed out what you can do locally with the funds that are available for life sciences companies."
Selexys partnered earlier this year with Cytovance Biologics for cell line development and manufacturing of the therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. Cytovance has a 44,000-square-foot multi-product production facility in Oklahoma City, which will be expanded later this year to include two bioreactors.
"We're going to try to do as much of the development of these drugs in the state as we can … and the manufacturing as well," Rollins said. "In addition to the Cytovance partnership, we are looking to the Oklahoma Center for Digestive Research, here at the (University of Oklahoma) Health Sciences Center, to help us with our clinical trials."