Innovators and Entrpreneurs: OKC economic climate rates highly in luring entrepreneurs
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2015 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Oklahoma City has been named the No. 1 city worth moving to for entrepreneurs who want to launch a startup by Entrepreneur.com.
So what does being a destination location for entrepreneurs say about our state capital?
First, economic factors matter to entrepreneurs, and they matter a lot.
Kiplinger names Oklahoma City as one of the most affordable big cities (with populations greater than 250,000) in the U.S. Entrepreneurs can find good housing and a relatively low cost of living. This is always important to college graduates with college loans, but it’s even more of a factor to entrepreneurs who always end up sacrificing salary to start the company of their dreams.
Entrepreneur.com says that the combination of our lower cost of living and a strong small-business-lending environment creates a “surprising startup haven.”
Being the state’s capital city with large colleges and universities in close proximity helps make us even more attractive. State governments tend to function no matter whether the overall economy is up or down.
With Oklahoma City University, the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma City campus, and the University of Oklahoma in the metro area — companies here have a pipeline to feed an educated workforce. Plus, the concentration of thousands of college students creates a unique energy that vibrates through the community.
This summer ESPN reported that Oklahoma City is even on a list of possible expansion cities for Major League Baseball.
So, what’s important about making these lists?
Imagine if we used the good press that’s coming from outside Oklahoma City to market ourselves more.
For example, Boulder, Colo., (another city on Entrepreneur.com’s list) has the highest concentration of software engineers per capita in the nation. Boulder also has a cost of living index that’s 50 percent higher than the U.S. average, not surprisingly driven by housing.
Why couldn’t Oklahoma City use our affordable housing advantages and portfolio of exciting startups like WeGoLook or Exaptive in a focused effort to draw some of this talent over the mountains into our state? We have to seize the opportunity that the positive press is bringing and leverage our success into greater success.
The point is that Oklahoma City has a great story to tell. People look at lists. They’re influenced by stats. They begin to think about locations differently.
We need to blow our own horn — louder and more.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.