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.
Q: In July, the Russell Stover candy store closed in the shopping center west of Interstate 35. That's a great location. What's going to fill the spot?
A: It is a fantastic location. Unfortunately for Russell Stover, their concept just didn't work well enough. A bright spot for them was the location and the fact that they had a buyer right away and the value of the property held. The new tenant, Poblano Grill, is currently under construction and will open soon. Next to them will be a free-standing, fine jewelry store, Lewis Jewelers, which is currently under construction and is expected to be complete early this fall.
Q: What other new stores are coming to the area? Can we expect anything new to be open in time for holiday shopping?
A: In the Shops at Moore, anchored by J.C. Penney, there are several new retailers opening this fall including Rue 21, Sally Beauty and Ooh La La (an accessories store.) Hobby Lobby will open in that same development in April. The center is leasing well and an additional 12,000 square feet of small shop space will be ready for occupancy in about 90 days. Stores that have opened there - J.C. Penney, Sephora, Justice, Bed Bath and Beyond, to name a few - are all performing very well. The developers have done a great job and are seeing the fruits of their labor. Discussions with a Mongolian stir fry restaurant, Genghis Grill, have been ongoing and look favorable for a location in this development.
Q: These two shopping centers have weathered the recession well. In your opinion, why is that?
A: It has everything to do with their location in a dynamic, well-populated, higher-than-average income trade area that has gone largely underserved by retail. All of the tenants in these developments have positioned themselves for profit with the merchandise they carry, the store sizes they build and the co-tenants they attract. At a time when enclosed malls are struggling and big box anchored power centers cater to the consumer better, we're lucky to have the latter.