In a year when cities across the country saw double-digit unemployment, Oklahoma’s two major cities were racking up national accolades. Oklahoma City and Tulsa saw unemployment push toward levels unseen in nearly two decades, but the jobless rates still are among the lowest in the country. Buoyed by a strong energy sector, the cities were touted for their business-friendly climate in numerous national rankings. Despite the economic downturn, Oklahoma continued to make small but significant investments in itself. Some $6.9 million in funding was approved for several technology projects in industries ranging from agriculture and aerospace to weather science and nanotechnology — all aimed at stimulating the local economy and encouraging job growth. Entrepreneurism seemed to be on the rise as well, with women leading the majority of new small business ventures. And i2E — a not-for-profit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies — reports it provided commercialization services to 114 companies. The agency also provided $1 million in proof-of-concept funding to 10 Oklahoma early-stage technology companies and invested $1.7 million in seven others through the Oklahoma Seed Capital Fund. On the securities front, Oklahoma has seen somewhat of a drought in initial public offerings, but two state firms successfully launched Exchange Traded Funds that began trading in the recent weeks. With voters’ approval of MAPS 3, Oklahoma City will continue to invest in improvements that are sure to boost its image nationally. 2009 may have been the year Oklahoma proved it’s recession hardy, but 2010 brings even more opportunity to shine when the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the World Creativity Forum come to town.