Oklahoma City ranks tops in many recent surveys. The Sooner state capital, or Oklahoma as a whole, is being praised for something every few weeks, it seems.
Just last month, KPMG LLP accounting firm named Oklahoma City the least-costly city in which to do business among 13 midsized U.S. cities, based on labor costs, facility leases, property taxes and other factors.
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo lauded Oklahoma, with a personal income growth of 6.2 percent in 2011, as one of the five fastest-growing states last year. And Arizona State University’s business school cited Oklahoma No. 6 in the nation for job growth.
The city’s far-reaching awards all are posted on the “OKC Accolades” page on the website of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, which uses valid studies to attract companies and talent here, said President Roy H. Williams.
Williams said he considers creditable studies as those that are outcome-oriented and compare peer groups. Meanwhile, he takes lightly, he said, rankings based on more intangible factors like recent healthiest, fattest or happiest studies.
“Some are based on number of sidewalk miles, jogging trails or fast-food restaurants we have, and ‘How objective is that?’” Williams said. “After all, you can have an exercise machine in your house, but that doesn’t mean you’re healthy.”
Meanwhile, chamber officials do plan to take the city’s statistics on retail growth (it saw a 3.68 percent increase in jobs in 2011, the third highest in the nation, according to the labor bureau) to the International Council of Shopping Centers Convention May 20-23 in Las Vegas. Williams said they’ll use such ammunition to attract retailers that aren’t yet in the Oklahoma City market, including Nordstrom, Costco and Wild Oats Market.
Williams partly attributes Oklahoma City’s plethora of awards to a 17-week image advertising campaign the chamber ran this time last year on the West Coast.
But primarily he gives the credit to the city’s Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS).
Last fall, some 140 city and business leaders from Mobile, Ala., visited to learn about Oklahoma City’s reinvention, Williams said.
And similarly sized groups, spurred in part by the city’s accolades, are coming this year from Louisville, Ky.; Jacksonville, Miss.; Waco; Albuquerque; Colorado Springs and Shreveport, La., Williams said.
Robert Dauffenbach, director of the Center for Economic and Management Research at the University of Oklahoma, affirms the findings on Oklahoma City’s economic security.
“There’s a high probability of having a job, living a decent level off that job and growth so that we can be confident in the job prospects and life here for our children,” Dauffenbach said.
Compared with other states, Oklahoma — largely thanks to its energy industry — is faring better in job growth, low unemployment and gains in personal income, he said.
Still, Dauffenbach predicts the recession, which started in December 2007, will run through 2014.
“We’re still down 4 percent from our peak economic levels and have a long road back,” he said. “But that’s typical for a financial crisis. It takes a long time to come back.”