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 long record of a close relationship between Oklahoma City and Southwest Airlines continues.
So does the traditional charisma of the nation's largest airline's new CEO, in the person of Gary Kelly, who wowed 500 Rotarians here last week.
"I noticed a little skepticism when I was identified in my introduction, as a Texas University graduate," he said. "But Texas and Oklahoma have one thing in common, we both hate Florida," he said to a favorably responding audience.
(And, sure enough, this week, the Associated Press ranked one of Florida's three gridiron greats above Texas and Oklahoma in the pre season national football rankings.
(Texas was No. 2 and Oklahoma 3. I hope the Red River shoot out in October will not cause Texas' defeat to harm our good relationship with Southwest Airlines.)
Southwest Airlines is a beloved corporate citizen of Oklahoma City. It has had a call center here for more than 30 years, employing about 750 all that time.
We return the favor by being one of its best performing cities among 66 cities served by Southwest. The airline offers more flights from Oklahoma City than any other airline, which is another reason we love them.
Our Town has been a reliable customer of Southwest, no doubt contributing to their company's unbroken chain of 36 years turning annual profits. That's an exclusive winner in the airline industry.
Kelly told the Rotary Club the company had adopted a new policy recently, accepting pets as passengers.
"We haven't had a single complaint from a cat or a dog since we started this service," Kelly said, "they love Southwest Airlines."
Oklahoma City air passengers should always fly Southwest when they have a chance. It's the official Gourley family connection between its two branches --Oklahoma and the Washington, D.C. area.