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.
Construction is nearing completion and auditions are scheduled for next month as the Coyote Ugly Saloon prepares to bring its dancing bartenders to Bricktown.
The bar at 121 E California along the Bricktown Canal joins the recently opened Michael Murphy's Dueling Pianos as the entertainment mix continues to evolve in the century-old warehouse district.
Saloon founder Liliana "Lil" Lovell, who had been featured in a series of reality shows overseeing auditions of attractive female bartenders who dance on bar tops, will be interviewing Bricktown employees June 13 and 14.
"Oklahoma City is a great fit for Coyote Ugly," Lovell said. "Bricktown has been on our radar for a while now. With the arrival of the Thunder professional basketball team though, we felt the time was right. I look forward to many great years in Oklahoma City."
Lee Killingsworth, head of marketing for the saloon, said the chain sees a lot of similarities between the location in Bricktown and a saloon along the RiverWalk in San Antonio.
"We really like that one a lot," Killingsworth said. "We look at cities with more than 1 million people, and I really do specifically target entertainment districts."
The bar was set to open in March, but Killingsworth said the project ran into delays because of licensing requirements. The bar is set to open June 24.
A tour of the bar area Tuesday revealed construction is almost complete. A gift shop area is at the canal entrance, while the saloon's trademark long bar top is already in place. A second-floor bar area also is in place for busy nights and special bookings.
The entire former digs of J. Frank's Bar was gutted, and even the bathrooms were rebuilt so they could be handicap accessible.
Killingsworth said the saloon will be open seven days a week, usually from about 5 p.m. until 2 a.m.
Bricktown Association Director Jim Cowan said the piano bar is already a "smashing success" and he looks forward to Coyote Ugly expanding the district's bar scene beyond dance clubs for 20-somethings.
"It's always a positive to have a national tenant move into Bricktown," Cowan said. "And it will help us add to the entertainment mix so that Bricktown has something to do no matter what your age is."