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.
The Tulsa area jumped to No. 19 from No. 72 last year in the index, which ranks the country's 200 largest metro areas. Oklahoma City climbed to No. 26 from No. 50.
The index, which ranks metro areas based on their ability to create and sustain jobs, also ranks 124 of the smallest metro areas. The report is compiled with the help of Greenstreet Real Estate Partners.
"Both Tulsa and Oklahoma City didn't lose nearly as many jobs as anybody else. Both metros have been performing well over the past five years. Wages and salaries have both gone up," said Kevin Klowden, a managing economist for Milken, in a phone interview from Milken's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif.
Tulsa ranked No. 36 for its five-year job growth between 2003 and 2008 relative to the national average. It ranked No. 16 for its one-year job growth from 2007 to 2008.
From March 2008 to March 2009, Tulsa lost less than 0.25 percent of its jobs.
"Considering the depth of the recession around the country, that is remarkable," Klowden said.
The city's tech sector grew slightly during the five-year period from 2003 to 2008, and also the one-year period from 2007 to 2008.
"The reason that is significant is the rest of the country just didn't grow," Klowden said.
Tech-related expenditures are one of the first things companies drop when they don't have capital to spend. The fact that Tulsa remained relatively stable in this area is important and impressive, he said.
The report ranked the Tulsa area at No. 30 for its five-year high-tech sector output growth relative to the national average and No. 32 for its one-year high-tech sector output.
Over the last couple of years, both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas also have benefited from the energy industry. The best performers in the index are definitely an indicator of that, Klowden said.
Texas, for instance, claimed four of the top five spots in the large-metro rankings, with Austin-Round Rock at No. 1.
Both Oklahoma metros also have seen low foreclosure rates. Growth in the housing market has been steady rather than sudden, so the cyclical downturn in housing, residential construction and related areas has not been severe in Oklahoma, Klowden said.
The biggest decliners, including several cities in Florida and California, continue to experience the fallout from the housing meltdown, according to the report.
In addition, heavy losses in durable goods manufacturing and the ailing U.S. automotive industry have mired Michigan's metros among the country's weakest performers.
Best-performing large metropolitan areas