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.
Four Oklahoma companies were included in Fortune magazine's latest list of the top 100 companies to work for.
Topping the state list at No. 13 was Oklahoma City-based oil and gas company Devon Energy. Devon jumped up 35 spots from last year, and ranked the highest among energy companies.
Tulsa-based QuikTrip was ranked 27th, up one spot from last year. Chesapeake Energy in Oklahoma City is No. 73, down from its 2008 ranking of 61, and American Fidelity Assurance Co. was ranked 45th, dropping from 24th place last year.
Devon was lauded for its low turnover rate and an innovative 401(k) retirement plan recognized in national business publications. The plan includes company contributions of up to 22 percent of an eligible employee's salary.
"While making the Fortune list is wonderful recognition for the company, it says even more about our employees," Devon Chairman Larry Nichols said.
"Their values and commitment are what make Devon a great place to work," he said.
The company celebrated with a gathering at the downtown Sheraton Hotel, where employees heard remarks from several Devon executives and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
"While this is a great honor for Devon, it is also very exciting for our community as a whole because it reflects the quality of life we all enjoy in Oklahoma City," Cornett said.
American Fidelity, a privately owned life insurance provider, made the list for a sixth consecutive year and handed out gifts to employees as they arrived and provided lunch.
American Fidelity's wellness programs, onsite fitness center and cafe offering healthy menu items were cited by Fortune.
The QuikTrip convenience store chain made its seventh consecutive appearance on the list, and was cited for being one of a handful of companies that has never experienced layoffs. "Not only is that a source if immense pride, it is also a constant reminder of QuikTrip's purpose, which is to give our employees the opportunity to grow and succeed," QuikTrip President Chet Cadieux said.
The company, which celebrated 50 years in business last September, has long been recognized for promoting from within its ranks and offering pay and benefits above industry standards.
Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy was lauded for not laying off employees even when natural gas prices plummeted and its stock fell from $74 to $12, and for hiring 1,100 workers between July and October last year.
"I am very proud of the culture and workplace environment that we have created in which our employees can grow and prosper," Chesapeake Chairman Aubrey K. McClendon said.
The annual Fortune ranking is compiled in concert with Great Place to Work Institute, which conducts an employee survey. Employment track records, benefit programs and each company's corporate culture is also analyzed in compiling the list.