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.
Along with an affordable cost of living and a high concentration of local investors, The Fiscal Times explains OKC's exciting environment for emerging companies as easy-to-succeed for entrepreneurs with a bevy of groundbreaking incentives alongside a strong economy, an expanding population, great "quality of life, revitalized downtown, and cultural activities, along with a talented workforce."
Where are the hottest spots to start a small business? With more Americans becoming entrepreneurs than any time in the past 15 years, it’s a burning question without easy answers. But a combination of factors makes certain metropolitan areas more attractive than others. These cities have strong economies, expanding populations, access to an educated and talented workforce, and are densely packed with like-minded entrepreneurs. Some are located in states with no corporate income tax and often have a relatively low cost of living and available office space.
A weak economy with massive corporate layoffs are helping to drive the growth in new-business owners. “Many people, even if they still have their jobs, are feeling a little insecure. So they may be building a company of their own after hours as a safety net,” says Penny Pickett, associate administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Immigrants, Pickett says, contribute “tremendously to this entrepreneurial energy and growth.” Those over age 50 are also major factor. “Many of those people are retiring early, maybe even getting a pink slip, and saying ‘This is what I’ve always wanted to do.’ Maybe their kids are grown and they don’t have as much responsibility anymore,” she says.
This list of the top 10 metropolitan areas for startups is based on Business Journals’ 2011 rankings, with additional reporting by The Fiscal Times. The rankings reflect such factors as population growth, economic strength, gains in private-sector employment and the number of small businesses – defined as private-sector employers with 99 or fewer workers. Numbers for populations and businesses include surrounding areas.
Oklahoma City rose from 15th place in last year’s Biz Journals study, due to its 12-month small-business growth rate of 0.4 percent and its third-place ranking in the country for one-year job growth. It offers an affordable cost of living and a high concentration of local investors from the oil and gas industry.
The state has 52 certified “business incubators,” providing assistance for startups that includes affordable lease space and administrative services. “There are a lot of networking resources in Oklahoma City,” says Gary Nelson, CEO of iThryv LLC, which provides financial software and literacy programs. Nelson says the quality of life, revitalized downtown, and cultural activities, along with a talented workforce, has enabled him to maintain a one percent employee turnover rate.
There are tax breaks for qualified manufacturing, research and development, and computer/data processing companies. The state also offers cash rebates for job creation and for companies that are subcontractors to federal prime contractors (the only incentive of its kind in the country).