Oklahoma - At the Center of North America
Oklahoma's central location - making it equidistant from New York City, Toronto, Mexico City, and Los Angeles - and its pro-business environment are attracting foreign investments.
Location USA 2010
The state's centralized location in the United States and close proximity to key U.S. NAFTA trading partners, Canada and Mexico, Oklahoma offers easy, affordable access to domestic and international markets. Competitive business costs, low taxes, comprehensive transportation systems (interstate, rail, air, and inland ports), cutting-edge incentives, and a technologically-skilled workforce make Oklahoma an excellent place to live and do business.
"It is time to discover one of the best-kept secrets in America, and North America for that matter," says Oklahoma Commerce Secretary Natalie Shirley.
"Our state offers a top-quality investment and business climate, and an unparalleled quality of life," Shirley says. "Oklahoma has one of the fastest growing economies in the United States, ranking among the top states in per capita income growth and gross domestic product growth."
Oklahoma is a major producer of natural gas, oil, and agriculture, and enjoys a diversified economic base in several growing sectors including aerospace, traditional and renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, distribution and warehousing, corporate services, and bio-life sciences. It is a state that has moved with the rate of technological change, which is demonstrated in its industry base, world-class academic infrastructure, and continually up-skilled workforce.
Location and Access
Situated in the South Central region of the United States at "America's Crossroads," Oklahoma's location makes it an easy-to-access setting for business. The potential to reach more than 80 million people within a 500-mile radius signifies just how significant the location is - equidistant between New York City, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Toronto. Major highways connect Oklahoma to within a day's drive to all major U.S. markets. Oklahoma is America's motor freight hub. Highways include I-35 (Canada to Mexico), I-40 (California to North Carolina), and I-44 (Midwest to Texas). Oklahoma is ideally positioned to serve not just the U.S. market, but can provide efficient transportation connections to all North American markets and other global markets.
"We offer a comprehensive intermodal network of air, highway, water, and rail transportation systems," Shirley says. "Oklahoma is particularly well-positioned to serve the growing Southwest United States marketplace, as well as the upper Midwest and Great Lakes states."
Umicore Optical Materials, headquartered in Belgium, will open its new facility in Quapaw this year, representing its second foreign direct investment in Quapaw and its third in Oklahoma. The company selected Oklahoma for its American expansion over Arizona and New Mexico.
"Umicore's decision to expand at Quapaw, Oklahoma, was based on a multitude of factors, including the state's cost of living, cost of production, average unemployment rates, and average household income," said Peter Dobbelaere, Tulsa Plant Manager of Umicore Optical Materials.
Umicore also has a business presence at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, the nation's most inland, all-weather port, connecting the state to seaports worldwide.
Known globally as an oil and gas giant, Oklahoma is a major producer of natural gas, ranking third-largest in the nation. The state has also emerged as a major market for the emerging renewable energy industry. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts Oklahoma will be the second largest generator of wind energy by 2030.
Oklahoma's industry portfolio is rapidly growing to include advancements in bioscience, manufacturing, and more renewable energy sectors such as solar, geothermal, and compressed natural gas.
Foreign-owned renewable energy companies like Umicore and Spain's ACCIONA (wind power facilities and turbines) continue to expand across the state. ACCIONA Energy North America CEO Peter Duprey said Oklahoma is a great state for wind business, and development in Oklahoma represents a big step for ACCIONA.
"Oklahoma is known for its oil and natural gas reserves, but it is also becoming known for its vast capacity for renewable energy. It already ranks in the top 10 U.S. states for wind energy potential," Duprey said. ACCIONA expects its second Oklahoma wind generation facility to go online by the end of 2010.
Oklahoma continues to be a leader in aerospace and aviation with more than 400 aerospace-related companies operating statewide. Its supplier base is growing and diversifying as the industry continues to outsource more of its components and specialty manufacturing.
The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base is the largest depot in the U.S. Department of Defense. Additionally, the American Airlines Maintenance and Engineering Center in Tulsa is the largest commercial MRO facility in the world. Oklahoma is also home to international airports in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Competitive Business Costs
Oklahoma continually ranks among the lowest cost areas in the United States in which to do business. CNBC recently ranked Oklahoma the third best state in the nation in total cost of doing business, and the best state in America for cost of living. Construction and lease costs and workforce costs are well below the U.S. average. In addition, Oklahoma has one of the lowest per capita tax rates in the nation.
While hard costs of doing business in Oklahoma are low, there is another layer of line items to consider when investing in any market - the soft costs related to starting up operations. The overall cost of doing business in Oklahoma is much lower compared to other states and North American markets. This is due to the role government plays in assisting and working with companies investing in the state.
"Oklahoma is a one-phone-call state," Shirley says. "Our state's leaders and public departments are here to facilitate business, and we work with our corporate investors every step of the way."
Workforce and Training
Access to skilled and trained workers is often cited by corporate leaders as one of business' greatest challenges of the 21st century. Oklahoma is known worldwide for its qualified and well-trained workforce. The state works with companies investing in Oklahoma to develop custom training and recruiting programs.
"Our workforce is well known for its positive attitude, skill, stability, and for being at the top of productivity ranking for the nation," Shirley says. "There is an attitude in Oklahoma that anything is possible. That is our real motivation for success. Oklahoma's can-do culture, combined with the resources state government brings to the table, makes for a motivated and well trained workforce."
Foreign Direct Investment
Foreign companies investing in Oklahoma have been increasing in recent years. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has a dedicated team to facilitate foreign direct investment and provide foreign companies with individualized services and assistance. International companies looking to enter the North American market can simply call or email one of the state's FDI advisors to access information, ask questions, or obtain any information they might need.