Business in Oklahoma is A-OK, report shows

Published: Saturday, August 1, 2009 7:00 am By: Debbie Blossom

The Oklahoman

Aug. 1--When it comes to the cost of living, the Sooner State beats out the rest of the nation, a new survey from says.

The online news site recently took a look at every state for its third America's Top States for Business '09, evaluating each of them in 10 categories.

Oklahoma had the third best economy, and was ninth in the cost of doing business. The state also ranked relatively high, at 16, for business friendliness. Overall, the state came in at No. 23.

The rankings were for states, but Oklahoma City business officials took note, just as they do with any poll, survey and list that includes Oklahoma or any of its cities, said Robin Roberts Krieger, executive vice president of economic development for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

"As economic developers, we always look at these and share the information with key partners," Roberts Krieger said. "It's good to see where we fall in the ranking."

Oklahoma's high ranking for its economy and cost of living "are huge," she said. And just halfway into 2009, the state could easily move up in other categories. "A year from now, this could get real interesting," she added. "In a difficult economy, it's good to be in Oklahoma."

About the study said it scored the states on 40 different measures of competitiveness using publicly available data.

Information then was separated into the 10 categories, with input from industry groups including the National Association of Manufacturers.

The importance of each category was based on how frequently each was cited in state economic development marketing materials, said.

And the fact that states market themselves differently now as a result of the faltering economy also was factored in.

For those already living here, the polls and surveys aren't as important as they are to someone looking to move here, said Mike Seney with The State Chamber.

And as with every ranking type of study, Oklahoma didn't fare quite as high in categories like transportation, education and technology and innovation.

With transportation, for instance, there are two things that put the state's ranking at 42, Seney said. "We're not a central air hub, and air transport is very important to businesses." The second issue is public transportation. "Oklahoma is a car state, and an interstate (highway) state," he said, although the state might have fared better if it was ranked on the amount of goods that go through the state on major highways and the port system.

But Seney said it's good for Oklahoma to land somewhere between the best and worst when it comes to business rankings.

"I like us being in the middle," he said, echoing the survey's researchers who noted that being in the Midwest means the economic booms are less pronounced than the rest of the country and busts are not as severe.

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