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 thousands of people move about downtown Oklahoma City on foot to-and-from basketball games this week, a streetscape plan for the city shows that the ways pedestrians get around downtown need improvement.
Enhancing pedestrian routes and making them safer and more inviting may spur private investment for shops and other businesses along those paths.
The Downtown Streetscape Master Plan was developed in 2006 and 2007 to help downtown plan for the future. The latest version of the report breaks down several aspects to form a cohesive streetscape, organize districts, improve the aesthetics of downtown, and create safe pedestrian access.
The plan was created by the city planning department and a consulting team.
Downtown districts identified in the study were Midtown, Automobile Alley, the Arts District, the Film Exchange, Deep Deuce, Bricktown and the Central Business District.
In addition to linking the CBD to surrounding areas by foot, the report defines the characteristics to make it safer and more fun for pedestrians to stroll about downtown.
Walking is on the mind of city leaders. The incoming president of Downtown OKC Inc., Jane Jenkins, on a visit to the city last month said she wants to see more people walking downtown. Jenkins plans to live at the Sieber, near NW 11th Street and N. Harvey Avenue, and walk about a mile each day, weather permitting, to her office at Oklahoma Tower.
Improved pedestrian accessibility can help districts like Bricktown and the Film Exchange.
Over the last 20 years, Bricktown has shaped up as a thriving entertainment district, but those on foot going to the area from the CBD must cross six lanes of traffic on E.K. Gaylord Boulevard.
Jim Cowan, executive director of the Bricktown Association, said pedestrian access is vital to the district, but it needs to be better connected with downtown.
"The one thing everyone can agree on is that we need to improve pedestrian access from downtown to Bricktown," he said.
Cowan said all options will be considered to make it easier for pedestrians to cross, including building bridges and tunnels or improving trolley service. Some of those ideas could be addressed as the city looks at a MAPS 3 project.
"We'll have to see what our city leaders have in mind," he said.
Bikes could help alleviate automobile traffic and give people another alternative to move about. Cowan said he has heard of companies that rent bikes. An option like that could be viable for Bricktown.
And bike riders now have a number of bike racks installed recently around Bricktown by the group Urban Neighbors.
"As we start moving toward a more urban feeling downtown we can come up with some ideas that help people get around," Cowan said. "Bikes could be a big part of that."