View Full Version : What corporations should we bring to Oklahoma City?

07-07-2004, 07:21 PM
Disney. Disneyworld Central, Disney Studios. Plus America West airlines, JetBlue airlines. Both could hub at Will Rogers easily.

Any other suggestions?

07-07-2004, 09:16 PM
It would be great to get some airlines to hub in OKC. I hope that the Will Rogers renovation and expansion will attract some airlines to do that.

I think that it is great that Dell is opening a customer care center in OKC. Here is the article about it from

Dell Article (

07-07-2004, 11:17 PM
I agree with the need for airlines to locate here.

Also, I think it's great to hear that Dell is locating a customer care center here. I only have one problem seems like OKC is quickly becoming the headquarters for lower paying (less than $10 an hour) customer service jobs. Look at the Sprint call center and AOL. Yeah, it's great that they located here, but then again, is this saying something about Okie's intelligence? Are we not smart enough to land more high tech, or manufacturing jobs.

I think we need to go after more bio-tech companies. Try to get someof the major pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Glaxo, etc. to locate satellite research facilities at the OUHSC research park.....or better yet, there's plenty of land east of the research center...let's expand further.

Since the economy is beginning to rebound, we ought to go back after Corning and try to get them to finish what they started. We should at least begin talks with them. I know they no longer own that property, but the steel structure that they started is still there and all of the vacant land around it. Why not try to sell them to Oklahoma again and try to get them to buy the property back?

We need to focus on getting more major plants here. The old Lucent plant is vacant and needs to be filled. There's plenty of land out that direction for more plants. Instead of getting a Dell call center, why not try to get a Dell manufacturing plant.

OKC has a lot of advantages. With OU continuing to improve we have a great educated work force. We have a low cost of living. With MAPS, we now have a good quality of life, and it continues to improve.

I think we should praise our current accomplishments, but at the same time reach for higher goals.

And, if not Disney World, we definitely need to give Six Flags some incentives to do something with Frontier City. They own the 60 plus wooded acres to the west of the park. They're sitting vacant for future development. What's the hold up. We also need to push Six Flags to change the name of our park and add the Six Flags name.

07-09-2004, 02:56 PM
Oklahoma City is in a conundrum because as a city (and region as a whole), it does not boast the numbers of college graduates that employers with high-paying jobs look for. Instead, we've been left with employers who are primarily attracted to Oklahoma City because the labor is cheap. We'll as I've mentioned to others before, cheap only gets you so far; other towns and foreign labor markets can out-cheap us. A company choosing you because you are cheap is akin to a couple going to Taco Bell for dinner: it's inexpensive, convenient, and you really don't care about the surroundings. Corporate citizenship from these companies is most likely minimal.

Having said that, call centers are an in-between. Their workers are paid more than minimum wage ($6-14/hr). They do require some intelligence (if not ability to communicate), but most workers are attracted to such jobs because they are an alternative to McJobs. That is where their value lies: call centers, like the hospitality sector, make up for the loss of manufacturing jobs. They don't pay as much, but they are better than non-commission retail and steadier than waitstaff positions. And Oklahoma City actually boasts some advantages for call centers: the workers are more reliable, friendly and nonconfrontational, communications trunk lines are already in the infrastructure, and our central time zone is convenient.

07-09-2004, 03:51 PM
The thing I find a little unconvincing about that argument is the fact that we have so many graduates leaving the state. If we don't have enough qualified college graduates, why are the ones we have having to leave the city and state to find work? It seems like we have plenty of college graduates, just not enough jobs for them. That's why I don't understand why more high tech corporations won't locate here.

All of our college graduates are going to Texas because there are jobs there. If companies in Texas are having such a hard time finding people to fill these high tech jobs that they're having to hire people from out of state, why are the companies staying there?

Seriously, why would a company choose to locate in Dallas? Other than a nice large airport, what else are they offering. I'm curious. I think their workforce is more educated, but that's only because they're getting a lot of college graduates from other states. The leaves behind the high school graduates in Oklahoma to fill the call center jobs.

07-09-2004, 05:56 PM
Here is some good news for the Biotech sector of OKC.

Cytovance Biologics (

07-09-2004, 09:56 PM
Patrick, part of the problem is who we're graduating and what jobs they want to take. Two of the largest majors at OU are psychology and journalism/mass communications, with a healthy dose of more social science majors (myself included). These aren't the kind of grads high-paying or cutting edge companies look for. They want science and engineering grads, who are in much shorter supply.

The largest major (last time I checked) was management information systems. That should be a good thing. But out-of-state (esp. Dallas) companies are scooping them up because their job offers are simply sexier. They pay more, are nationally important concerns, and offer the kind of life Dallas is known for. If you're a newly-minted MIS grad, who would you rather work for, Cisco, or Integris Health? or the State of Oklahoma?

Even our MBA grads would rather work for a consulting company like McKinsey & Company or Accenture rather than start their own business in this fair state of ours. That is a problem, and that is where quality of life comes in.

First, why Dallas has its edge in employers. The Big D has been cultivating a high tech reputation for decades now, with stalwarts like Texas Instruments. This attracts more tech companies; like companies cluster. This is because the talent (usually), suppliers, and other industry infrastructure are already there. They don't need to collaborate with local schools to set up training because the schools are already there. Besdies that, Dallas, like the rest of Texas, is as business-minded as any other place on earth.

Dallas seems to offer the kind of quality of life these grads look for. Their fat paychecks allow them to purchase 3,000 sq. ft. houses in master planned communites (where the local Albertsons is like a Dean and Deluca on steriods), pretend to be funky in Deep Ellum, pack the kids in the SUV for The Ballpark at Arlington, bathe in Bach with the Dallas Symphony, and walk off their lunch at The Cheesecake Factory with a walk to Macy's in the mall. All without a dime of income tax to the State of Texas (which to me is a dubious benefit).

That is why college grads are leaving.

07-09-2004, 10:46 PM
I meant that companies don't have to collaborate with local schools to set up training because the programs are already there. This is an example of industry infrastructure. It also includes activity-enabling legislation, industry authorities, nonprofit groups and activities that cater to their unique needs, research centers, etc...

07-10-2004, 10:25 AM
The chamber concentrates on eight industry clusters -- education/training, hospitality/tourism, biomedical, aviation, automotive/industrial, logistics (trucking, warehousing), customer service (call centers), and oil and gas.

Of these, I would like see more in aviation, biomedical, and oil and gas jobs because they are highpaying and specialized -- we wouldn't have to compete with many cities as for say, an auto assembly plant. The problem with aviation is that it is more consolidated as an industry. Thus, we can only hope for more branch facilities from the likes of Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, etc and the federal government. We have a much better chance of landing biomedical HQs because there are hundreds of them. We can sell OKC to these companies with this message: would you rather be a small fish in a big pond, or be a big fish in a growing pond?

I would rather grow small companies that are loyal to the city than attract branches of large corporations. But because this is a wish list, here goes:

GE (medical devices)
Eli Lilly
Hewlett Packard
ConocoPhillips (it is a wish list)
Southwest Airlines
Capitol Records
USOC (training facilities)
Airborne Express (HQ)
Harolds (back from Dallas)
Procter and Gamble

07-10-2004, 07:10 PM
It seems that these Dell jobs are better than call center jobs. Tell me what you think about this article.

Another Dell Article (

07-10-2004, 09:03 PM
Wow. When I first heard that Dell was locating a customer service facility I wasn't that thrilled -- because these are technically call center jobs. But they pay more (one thing I would like to know is if "salaries" is literal, or just a synonym for total annual pay of an hourly wage) and require extensive training.

"If you look at the demographics of Oklahoma City the education, the population the area could support an operation of up to 3,000 people," Parra said.

That's music to my ears. While I would rather have an R & D facility or skilled manufacturing plant here (such as that Cytovance facility) this is still a good "get". I commend Dell and the state's Commerce and Employment Security departments for working so hard to make this happen.

07-10-2004, 09:56 PM
Unfortunately, when you court employers as a region, you open up competition between local cities. Norman is challenging OKC for Dell's permanent location:

Norman has an advantage with a pastoral setting along Hwy 9, OU sports, OU's trainers, and OU's career services center to restock employees; it's disadvantage is the relative isolation. With OKC, a near downtown location isn't as good as a downtown location, although the EZ benefits may tip the scale in OKC's favor. And the services Dell is looking for are in closer proximity.

Of course, personally, I'd rather see them in OKC.

07-11-2004, 11:31 AM
floater, Yeah, I guess you're right.......seems like most of the graduates that are having to leave the state aren't in the engineering or science sector. They're in education, and the other majors you mention. Also, we have an over-abundance of business majors. Like you say, the high tech grads aren't in great supply.

Anyways, I completely understand what you're trying to say.

I guess our universities need to invest more in their engineering, computer science, science, etc. departments. We need to give incentives like scholarhsips to try to attract students to those fields. I don't think we have poor universities, I just think we're not attracting students into the right fields.

Once we start attracting students into the more high tech fields by offering incentives, maybe companies will see the importance we place on those fields, and decide to move here, especially sicne there would then be an educated workforce to fill those jobs.

One thing I still don't understand though is that with as many MBA grads as we have here (we do have a lot in that field), why companies like McKinsey and other conulting firms won't locate here. Although we don't have the engineering and manufacturing graduates, we seem to have the business graduates.

OCU and OU Schools of Business are some of the finest in the nation.

Anyways, I guess the difference between us and Dallas is Dallas has really focused on building their manufacturing sector. We can't do that until the focus of our schools change. It's going to have to be a school change, not anything the state can necessarily do. I suppose our state could offer more scholarships for those fields.

I don't know I I buy into the income tax being the problem though. If they don't tax our income, they'll just increase property and sales tax. They have to make up for the money somehow. But, I guess if that's what it takes, and people are stupid enough to believe that without income tax they're really getting a tax break, go for it! In a way though, I think it kind of sucks though, because not everyone is having to pay taxes under that live in an apartment you miss out on the increase in property tax. I guess it's passed on in rent though. Whichever way they're going to tax you, the bottom line is the state is gonig to get their money. I guess it's just two diffferent approaches to how the state is going to get their funding.

What do you think?

I agree with you that companies shouldn't have to set up programs through schools. We need to build our own programs at OU to try to attract companies instead of depending on companies to build our educatonal programs.

I agree that we need to focus more on aviation, biomedical, and oil and gas jobs, and especially on manufacturing. But, like you say, in order to do that, we need to expand our engineering programs, whether it be civil engineering, nautical engineering, or oil and gas engineering. Fortunately, I think we're starting to do better on the biomedical side of things. With research park, and the other research buildings being built on the Health Sciences Center Campus, it's a start. But, I think we need to do more. There's plenty of land to the south of the OU Health Sciences Center. Let's continue to expand the research park. We build it a and they will come.

I think Rose State presents one of our biggest problems. Tinker has basically had to build that college from ground up. Instead, our state should've provided a decent university with programs tailored to fit Tinker's needs.

I think David Boren is doing a lot to help in regards to some of our educational problems, but still more needs to be done.

I think this is a good statement to sell our city: would you rather be a small fish in a big pond, or be a big fish in a growing pond?

Your wish list is definitely right on the money.

Floater, you're thinking how our chamber needs to be thinking!!!!! Want to run
for the next president of our chamber? You have some great ideas!

I think losing the Corning plant was a big blow to us, because afterall, those are the types of jobs we need to be going after. But at least Corning taking our city into consideration gives us some hope for the future. It says something about the progress we've made since the 1980's, but we still have a ways to go.

In regards to the Dell jobs....I read the article. I think this will be good for OKC. It will be much more than just an ordinary call center like AOL or Sprint. Although it's not what I'd wish to have, it's a start, and better than nothing. It probably reflects the education of our citizens as a whole at this point.

I'll say it again...I know we're pouring a lot of money into OU and surrounding schools, but I think we need to do more....especially with the areas that we've mentioned. We need to make OU's engineering school, the engineering empire of the south. The only way we can do that is to invest money in that department, and draw students towards pursuing those degrees. Only when we build such programs, will high tech corporations start considering OKC.

We can graduate all of the teachers we want to, but it's not solving our immediate problems.

07-11-2004, 11:33 AM
In regards to Norman getting Dell, I really don't think they have a chance. Sure, they have OU and all, but they just aren't centrally located and can't draw talent from the entire surrounding metro area like OKC can. Sure, I'd like to see Dell locate in downtown, but near downtown is better than nothing. Maybe the new center can replace so of the more slum looking parts of downtown. Just look at what the new Federal Complex has done for north downtown. Maybe Dell locating in south or west downtown could go a long ways to improving those areas.

07-11-2004, 07:47 PM
I think we're losing graduates across the board, no matter what the major is. Perhaps I'm making it sound worse than it really is; but the people will go where the terrific opportunities are. Not all do, but many times, that entails being underemployed. We need more sexier employers.

But about science and engineering: careers are such a personal choice, I don't know if any amount of financial incentive will convince them to switch. The key is in K - 12 education; are kids being taught by teachers who inspire a love of science? Are they taught to be curious? Over the course of my schooling, science was a field where memorization was king. If you remembered the theory or the process, you were okay. You could get away without thinking critically. With the exception of my high school physics teacher, I don't think we were really challenged to understand.

This is where I think a revamped Omniplex and the local science-based business community can come in. They can make science exciting and relevant. The Omniplex has been grossly underserving its service to the city; it seems too oriented toward being an attraction with travelling exhibits and artifacts and not as a stimulator of interest in science. They could be pushing the envelope of science education, hosting talks, distributing a citywide newsletter, putting on demonstrations. Instead we have the Titanic and Monster Trucks. Of course, like other museums around the country, they may be in a financial crunch to where they have to bring in popular culture exhibits to attract visitors. But it leaves a void. In the time my friend worked at the Omniplex, I never heard him describe an employee who was gung ho about science. Discussions were always about the logistics of handling the exhibits.

A health museum on the OU Medical Center campus could go along way in attracting youngsters to the medical profession.

On the higher education front, we really need more top notch universities. OCU has a fine faculty and produces great graduates, but its lack of research activity limits keeps it from being a cultivator of cutting edge talent. OU and OSU are doing what they can to commercialize what innovations come out of their labs. But they are having to overcome a population out of step with what they're doing. A chemical researcher I know at OUHSC says that the bioscience community isn't moving as fast as his team would like; the tech workers are negotiating a steep learning curve. But I have to say, the OMRF, Presbyterian Center, OU Center are putting OKC on the map as one of the top 40 locations for biomedical companies:

In terms of business graduates, there are only so many consulting companies out there. We need those MBAs to start their own businesses. Every large corporation had to start out small (well, not always) somewhere. We need more risk-taking and ambition. That way, we don't have to be so reliant on those sexier employers.

It's a Catch-22; once we demonstrate we have the expertise and trainability to staff those sexier employers, they'll be interested in us. So we have to sell ourselves. Until more companies get the message, we'll have to make do with what employers we have already, or create our own opportunities.

I agree that the Texas' lack of an income tax is not really an incentive, because it is more than made up for in property taxes.

Sorry to burden you guys with my self-righteous rants, but these are issues I would like to see us work on...

07-11-2004, 08:37 PM
Floater, I agree about your perceptions of OKC. But there is a few things I would like to say about our biotech.

From the link Floater provided, the OKC MSA is #33 in the nation. Look at that list and you see a bunch of CMSAs. CMSA is a consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area which usually includes two or more MSAs. For example, it lists the Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton CMSA which in reality is Seattle-Bremerton-Everett MSA + Tacoma MSA. A MSA is a Metropolitan Statistical Area which is defined as the central city and the surrounding area most dependent upon the central city for commerce, culture, and education - among other things.

What I am trying to say here, is there were 17 CMSAs ahead of us but only 15 MSAs ahead of us. If they were to standardize the poll into just MSAs, OKC is bound to move up! I would imagine Seattle MSA dropping from 10 (as a CMSA with Tacoma) down to something like 16. That is a six point drop.

Portland-Salem is another one that would drop likely below our 33 if separated! Salem is 50 miles away from Portland and really has its own identity (although Portland IS the bastion of shopping and culture for Oregon). With this concept, the Oklahoma City CMSA would include Tulsa and Lawton, because the whole state has some reverence to Oklahoma City, be it entertainment, shopping, culture, or education! I bet then, we would rank in the top 20! - but such a geographical area would be way too large (but hey, Seattle CMSA is almost that big, so is LA CMSA).

So, really you have to be careful when you see these rankings. They put us up against regions that are bigger than ours. What they should have done, is rank per-capita (then you would really see the strength of Oklahoma City!). Some 60,000 + bio related jobs in OKC metro (with a pop of 1.2 mil) is much more substantial than DFW's 230,000 bio jobs in a CMSA of 6.4 mil! [5% vs 3.5% resp]. Yes, we need the numbers but for our size as a large MSA, OKC is doing very well and we rank with the mega city CMSAs nicely!!!

Here is my final note, could we say this just five years ago? OKC has really come a LONG WAY!!! and to think that we are GROWING, I bet we have 100,000 bio jobs by 2010 (hopefully in addition to other sectors) maybe our per capita would be higher and hopefully our ranking against the CMSAs would increase as well.

07-11-2004, 08:49 PM
Good point about comparing CMSAs to MSAs, HOT ROD -- especially about employees per capita!

07-13-2004, 08:40 AM
I would also like to see more technical jobs open in OKC, as some of you know I live in Michigan and work as an engineering technician and test driver at Ford Motor Company, at the Dearborn test track. Wanting to move to OKC, it would be nice to see some technical jobs open up. For all of the OKC area this would be a good thing, I think Oklahomans are among the nicest people I have ever met, and the state overlooked by too many corporations. Look at the Arizona Proving Grounds, out in the middle of nowhere, why cant Oklahoma have something like that, for any of the auto makers. Just my 2 cents. I think OKC has a strong future and alot of posibilities. Hope to be part of that someday soon.

07-14-2004, 12:58 AM

We'd love to have you here. Getting corporations that offer technical jobs to locate here has been the unfortunate problem. We've had several attempts (Corning especially) that we've lost due to an oil bust here, or a recession there.

I think we have everything going for us in regards to quality of life. Now we need to focus on higher education. We have a few great universities but we need more. floater mentioned this in other posts, but by not having several top notch universities around the metro, we're missing out, because we're just not offering the graduates companies are looking for.

Also, several companies have left because of our airport. Although we're in the process of virtually demolishing our old airport and building a new one, it's still not enough. We need to start thinknig bigger around here. Our old airport had 16 gates. The new one will have 25. Why not think big, and build a 50 gate airport.......of course get committments from airlines first to increase service, but do that by presenting your plans to them, then going with the plans.

This is similar to what Urban Retail Inc. did shortly after they purchased Penn Square back in the early to mid 1980's. Urban came up with a plan to increase the size of the mall from 500,000 sq. feet to 1,100,000 square feet by adding a second level to the mall, two new wings, and a food court. Urban presented the plan to several companies and got agreements from them to sign long term leases to locate in the mall. Most notable additions included 2 new department stores, Foleys and JC Penney.

Today, the mall is the highest profit-making mall in the state, and recently sold for around $35 mill to Simon Property Group, in a huge transaction that involved most of Urban's malls. Urban turned a dying one-level mall into a thriving premier shopping mall.

Just think what our city could get if they thought the way this corporation thought.

07-14-2004, 08:32 AM
Thanks Patrick, and I'd love to be there. I am familiar with the airport expansion, I remember that going on since the first time I came there in February of 2003, and I know it's still going on. I guess in a way it's good to think bigger, but not too big, Detroit is too big and crowded, and that creates an unfreindly situation, there is alot of stress and crime here. I just think OKC is in a good central area for buisnesses to be in from east to west. You do have everything going for you in regards to quality of life, and it's not always about the money.

07-14-2004, 10:46 AM
Mariner: Oklahoma City has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. With the changes in our laws concerning Ephedrin, it is a bit lower.

Although I support starting a hub at Will Rogers with 30 gates, Patrick's idea of 50 to 60 gates is the ideal target.

Yes. Detroit is crowded. And so are most major cities. However, do they have the 620 plus square miles in their cities proper to expand as does Oklahoma City?

The more major business the better. The more major attractions and major sports the better. :)

07-14-2004, 01:17 PM
Hey Mariner,

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree wholeheartedly with you. We all want Oklahoma City to grow, but at the same time we don't want OKC to lose its friendliness and hometown feel.

I think OK could grow in a constructive way if its done right. Cities like Detroit and Dallas just haven't put a lot of planning into their growth. Contrary to that, San Antonio has put a lot of thought into its growth. San Antonio's growth has been organized and well thought out.

What I like about San Antonio are that the atomoshpere is unique and relates well to the culture, the people are friendly, and although it's about three times the size of Oklahoma City, it doesn't seem to feel like a big city. By all means, San Antonio has large attractions, fine venues (the Alamo Dome is hard to beat), and great corporations, but it still has that hometown feel.

I hate to copy off other cities, but if we're going to model ourselves after a larger city, San Antonio is a good one to look at.

I know many people around here look to Dallas for ideas, but personally, other than for their airport and commuter rail system, I think Dallas is poorly layed out and just another big city. There's nothing special and unique about Dallas.
As Oklahoma City grows, we need to hold onto our Native America culture and use it to our advantage, like San Antonio has with their Hispanic culture.

I agree with Mr. Anderson that Oklahoma City is different. We do have a lot more space here to build, whereas places like Detroit and New York are over built. The only thing I can recommend though is that we watch urban sprawl, because that isn't good either.

But, we do need to continue to focus on getting more and better jobs in our city. I'm not sure if attracting more people is necessarily the answer, so I agree with Mariner there.

Take St. Louis for instance. Their population is about the size of Tulsa's, but they have attracted a lot of larger corporations that draw in major sports teams and good jobs. From my trips to St. Louis, I think they're also a great city to model after. They have a great downtown area, and their entertainment District (Laclede's Landing) on the Miss. River is growing and fun! It reminds me a lot of Bricktown.

I agree with Mr. Anderson.....50 or 60 gates is probably too much for Oklahoma City at this point. Maybe 30 is a better goal. Problem is, right now it's not even a guaranteed plan they're going to finish phase III of the airport expansion project because since 9-11, and the loss of Great Planes, the need for more gates just isn't there. Once Phase II (expanding the main center terminal with gates) is complete the airport will be back to 16 gates, which is what it had originally.
The Phase III expansion which would add a wing to the east which would mirror the new west wing would bring thew final total to 25. Maybe 25 is a good goal for our city, at least for now.

I will say one thing about our new airport.....It will be a lot nicer than the old one. The new west conncourse is gorgious and extremely modern looking. It's so much brighter than the old B Concourse that it replaced. I was impressed with it.

So in summary, maybe our goal as a city shouldn't be necessarily tto attract more people, but to attract better venues, continue improving facilities, improve education, and continue to try to attract better jobs and corporations. I think St. Louis has the right plan.

07-14-2004, 02:52 PM
CBD Dallas boasts one of the best skylines in the world. But with the North Dallas Tollway, it's a shadow of its former self at 27% vacancy. Cleveland has been described as a 150 lb. man wearing a 300 lb. man's suit; the business and population loss from its heyday of a century ago has challenged city leaders and real estate brokers for decades.

Oklahoma City has plenty of room to grow. But it should maintain a healthy dichotomy between the urban and rural.