OKC warehouse, distribution sector thrivingPublished: Monday, May 10, 2021 By: Journal Record Staff Source: The Journal Record
The health of Oklahoma City’s warehouse and distribution sector was reflected in recent data published by labor market analytics firm Emsi.
It showed that between 2010 and 2020 the number of jobs in the sector grew by 56%, or about 10,000 jobs. That growth outpaced rates recorded for both the rest of the state and the nation as a whole.
According to Jeff Seymour, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, some of the growth in Oklahoma City can be attributed to the rise in on-demand delivery services resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, but he said there are other factors as well.
“E-commerce continues to drive some growth, but I also think as Oklahoma City continues to grow, it is serving more as a regional hub than it has in the past,” Seymour said. “Large distribution clusters like Kansas City and Dallas-Fort Worth in the center of the country typically have robust rail, air and highway infrastructure options. We have great transportation infrastructure here as well; however, we are not a mega-cluster like a Kansas City, a DFW or a Chicago. Just realizing our potential to be a regional multi-state hub is probably where we are positioned to best leverage our abilities right now.”
Seymour’s comments were published in this month’s issue of The Point, the chamber’s monthly newsletter.
The warehouse and distribution industry accounts for $4.2 billion, or 5.5%, of total gross domestic product for the Oklahoma City metro.
Seymour said the city could do even more to maximize its niche as a multi-state hub in the warehouse and distribution sector. A priority should be on ensuring the state has a ready workforce with skills and talents needed by the industry. Oklahoma City, too, should take full advantage of land and properties available to help companies grow. According to The Point, citing CoStar, a third-party real estate listing service, the Oklahoma City market boasts more than 73 million square feet of warehouse and distribution commercial real estate inventory.
“The warehouse and distribution sector in Oklahoma City is very healthy. In fact, I would even term it as hot,” said Randy Lacey, a first vice president at CBRE, the world’s largest real estate and investment firm.
Lacey echoed Seymour’s comments concerning the effect the pandemic has had on the market.
“E-commerce is one of the biggest driving forces in the market, between fulfillment centers, last-mile facilities and sorting centers,” he said. “That is all about warehouse space and has created a consistently low vacancy rate and kept the prices high. That is probably one of the biggest reasons why the industrial market is a preferred asset class and is so stable and predictable.”
Brett Price, senior managing director at Newmark Robinson Park, which specializes in leasing and sales of industrial properties in Oklahoma, described Oklahoma City’s current industrial market as “tight” with potential to become even more competitive in coming months.
“You typically do not see a great deal of speculative industrial development in Oklahoma City. However, within the next 12 to 18 months, we expect to see quite a few developments kicking off,” he said.
Price’s comments, too, were reported in this month’s issue of The Point.