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.
"The great thing about Oklahoma City is that it is large enough to support and promote new business, but is 'small' enough to give entrepreneurs an invaluable network of scientific and business professionals."
- Jay Martin, Director, Advanced Systems Group, OrthoCare Innovations
OKLAHOMA CITY - When an auto plant closes, it's usually bad news for the local economy.
When that factory is a mammoth, 4-million-square-foot operation with thousands of highly paid union workers, the shutdown usually means disaster.
Not in Oklahoma City, where the unemployment rate is low and personal income is soaring.
The General Motors plant closed in 2006, but was quickly reinvented as an aerospace repair operation for neighboring Tinker Air Force Base, one of the military's largest repair facilities.
The current recession has put much of the U.S. on an economic losing streak. But a few places, including Oklahoma City, have missed most of the pain.
This city is perhaps the most surprising. Construction cranes are busy here. New medical buildings are underway. Buildings are being renovated in the historical Bricktown neighborhood. Oklahoma City's June unemployment rate of 6% was the second-lowest in the nation for metropolitan areas with 1 million or people, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Its per-capita income grew 6.9% in 2008 to $40,942, compared with a year earlier, the Commerce Department reported last week. That growth made the city No. 1 in the USA for large metro areas.
What's Oklahoma City's secret? "Luck, as much as anything," says Roy Williams, Chamber of Commerce president and a former economic developer in Phoenix and Ohio. "We're doing the right things, in the right place, at the right time."
Government as a strong jobs base
Of the five big metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates - Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Washington, San Antonio and Austin - four are state or U.S. capitals and all have a large government workforce.
Oklahoma City's economy is not only diversified but, by coincidence, is strong in areas that are thriving - or at least not collapsing - in this recession:
The city also escaped the real estate bubble.
The area's median housing price is $129,900, up 4% from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. Nationally, housing prices were down 14% during that time.
"Our highs are not high, and our lows are not low," says Michael Bernard, president