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 - As Brenda Craiger worked to sell downtown condominiums, people kept asking when retailers were coming. Now she has an answer.
Craiger is the marketing director for Triangle Development, the group building The Brownstones at Maywood Park and condo projects on the northeast side of downtown in the Flatiron area.
The Triangle Group began planning the projects about four years ago. The company now has 20 brownstones built, with work under way on a loft project. About 25 percent of the brownstones are sold.
In November, pizza restaurant The Wedge opened in Deep Deuce. Sage Gourmet Cafe & Market is set to open in May, and last week sandwich chain Jimmy John's leased space on N. Harrison Avenue with plans to open in July.
"A lot of people asked for a market," she said. "Now that we have Sage coming in, it helps me."
Maywood and the Second Street Lofts have some office and retail space, but Craiger said the focus has been selling residential units. At the lofts, the group plans to offer 30,000 square feet of office space for lease or sale.
Sage is in the historic Littlepage Building surrounded by the 294-unit Deep Deuce at Bricktown apartments and near Grant Humphreys' Block 42 condo project.
Charifa and Kevin Smith's Sage will be a restaurant and bar in one part and will include a store for sundries and gourmet takeout food items. It's set to have a soft opening in April.
Charifa Smith said neighbors have been stopping by the store, at 228 NE Second St., to see what's going on inside.
"We've taken down the paper off the windows," she said. "People just come right in and ask when we're opening."
The new eateries join Leo's Bar-B-Q and the Deep Deuce Grill in offering neighborhood dining.
Craiger said as each new business takes a chance on the area, it helps everyone.
"New businesses can only have a positive impact on the neighborhood," she said.
Since opening in November, Elena Farrar, general manager of The Wedge, said the restaurant has been busy with a mix of locals, tourists and people who drive in from the suburbs.
The original Wedge is on Western Avenue. Farrar said the Deep Deuce restaurant, with seating for 75, opened in anticipation of the new housing.
"We're a neighborhood spot on Western and we wanted to be a neighborhood spot here as well," she said. "Our busiest nights are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We're always on a wait those nights."
National chains, like Jimmy John's, can lend credibility to an area, but Farrar said she would like to see more local businesses.
"I would love to see it stay local," she said. "That's really important."
Humphreys said he is pleased with the retail that has followed the rooftops in that area, even while many residential projects are still under construction.
"I'm happy to see the retail that has come in is local, community-building retail," Humphreys said. "That's really important for the formation of a neighborhood and an urban community."
As the economy improves, Humphreys said incremental growth of retail in the Deep Deuce and Flatiron areas was likely.
"We're still at the preliminary stages of community formation in that area," he said.