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 - Last week The Buzz could barely brew coffee fast enough to meet demand.
The coffee shop and eatery inside the First National Center was just one business that saw a major bump when the American Choral Directors Association convention brought about 6,500 people downtown.
"We had an awesome week," said Buzz co-owner Alison Sisson. "We were busy from open to close."
On a normal weekday The Buzz serves 200 to 300 customers.
"Last week it was probably double or triple that," Sisson said. "We could barely keep up."
Laura Kriegel, director of marketing and communications for the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the choral directors had an economic impact of $7.6 million.
With the Big 12 men's and women's basketball championships rolling into town this week, the CVB expects plenty of people who will need food, drinks and hotel rooms.
That should fare well with downtown merchants.
"We're expecting to be busy again," Sisson said. "We're hoping for another good week."
Kriegel said when Oklahoma City hosted the Big 12 in 2007 the economic impact was $42 million. This year the CVB expects the five-day event to have an economic impact of $40 million to $45 million.
Ada-based Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc. will have 13,000 people downtown for its convention next week with an economic impact of $15 million, Kriegel said. The company has held the convention here since 2000.
Despite many groups and organizations scaling back or canceling events in other markets, Kriegel said Oklahoma City is still on track.
"We haven't lost convention business," she said. "We've got large events coming in through the summer."
John Williams, general manager of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, had the hotel booked last week and it will soon be filled with Big 12 business.
"We're in good shape," he said.
Williams said his guests spend money at the hotel and elsewhere downtown.
"We have a great restaurant but people don't want to eat every meal at the hotel restaurant," he said. "They want to get out and see what the city can offer."
One downside of an influx of people downtown can be its effect on the regulars.
Sisson said she never wants to ignore those who support the business all year, despite long lines during events and conventions.
"A lot of our regulars would pop in and see the line out the door and they'd say 'we'll come back and see you later,'" she said. "But we try to squeeze them in any way we can."
Kriegel said most take the occasional crowds in stride.
"I don't think we've gotten any calls at the CVB that people are complaining that the lines are too long getting in the parking garage or the lines at restaurants are too long," she said. "In the big picture it's such a positive for this city."
Sisson said she would welcome a packed house on a regular basis.
"I wish we always had that many people downtown," she said.