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 Oklahoma secretary of commerce told a House committee Nov. 17 that right now is the best time to market Oklahoma.
Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Natalie Shirley spoke to the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee during an interim study on marketing the state.
State Rep. T.W. Shannon, who requested the study, said he thinks that the crucial role marketing plays in drawing jobs and industry to the state makes it an important investment even in a tight budget year.
"The state is doing an incredible job of marketing itself, but there is more that we could do," Shannon, R-Lawton, "All three speakers who presented today showed that we are getting a return on our investment. Even in a tight budget year, it is crucial to continue to work to bring high-quality jobs for Oklahomans to the state."
Shirley said that because of how well Oklahoma is faring the recession compared to its neighbors, now is the time to attract industry to the state. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce is planning to spend $3 million in a media campaign to reach C-level executives -- CEOs, CFOs, etc. -- with a 13-week schedule promoting the state that includes advertising on national TV networks.
The secretary also noted that Oklahoma City has recently made the top of lists 26 times recently - lists like best-recession proof city and best place to start a small business. One problem the state has is that many business executives do not have a mental image of Oklahoma, a problem she is hoping the 13-week media campaign will solve.
For every tourism dollar spent, the state saw a $54.46 return in 2009, according to Hardy Watkins, executive director of the state Tourism and Recreation Department.
"Clearly, if we are getting that kind of a return on our investment, it's worth it," Shannon said. "Though the secretary of commerce did not ask for a specific amount, she said it is important that lawmakers continue to keep marketing in mind when crafting the state budget next session. I, for one, believe it would be a good investment."