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.
The old General Motors plant in southeast Oklahoma City is looking less and less like a car factory as the Air Force proceeds with its conversion of the property into a maintenance facility.
Just months after General Motors announced it was closing the plant, Oklahoma County voters approved a $55 million bond issue to buy the property and lease it back to the Air Force for $1 a year.
The Air Force, in turn, is retrofitting the plant and using it to replace aging maintenance buildings, some of which don't even have air conditioning.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett is among those monitoring the project's outcome.
"It's too early to know how successful it will ultimately be," Cornett said. "But the officials at Tinker are enthused, the Pentagon is impressed, and it helps solidify our relationship with the most important economic driver we have."
The redubbed Tinker Aerospace Complex is envisioned as being more than just an extension of Tinker Air Force Base - it's also seen as generator of new jobs to be brought in by companies seeking to be partners with the Air Force.
"It doesn't look much like it did when we came in," said Jeff Catron, program manager at the Tinker Aerospace Complex. "Good progress is being made. We're planning to bring in the first shop, the engine shop, this summer."
Catron said demolition is complete and crews are installing infrastructure for engine overhaul work. Gone are the steel girders that hung from the ceiling and the slides that pushed the cars through the plant starting with the Chevrolet Citations in 1979.
Floor trenches spanning 10 feet by 70 yards are being filled and central utilities are being brought back on-line.
Robin Roberts Krieger, executive vice president of economic development with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said she anticipates much of the metal being hauled out will be sold to off-set the project's cost.
"GM left a whole lot of stuff behind," Robert Krieger said. "Drive by the plant and there is a mountain of metal lying outside."
She said the chamber hosted two briefings in October and November with companies interested in entering into partnerships with the Air Force at the plant.
"We walked through who could and couldn't go through the building and what the process would be," Roberts Krieger said. "Several companies qualified to come in and go into a partnership with the military. What we're talking about are new operations ... we anticipate the outcome will result in new jobs."
Catron hopes to have 650 Air Force employees in the plant by the end of the year. Accommodations will include a new break room, convenience store and food services. He anticipates workers in the sheet metal division will be most excited about the move - they've been working in facilities without air conditioning during hot Oklahoma summers.
"We've brought the first group of folks to come over and they've toured their new location," Catron said. "They're very excited."