| November 1, 2012

Top 5 signs Oklahoma is open for business

In case you missed the inaugural edition last week, welcome to "Thursday's Top 5," a new feature on the OCPA blog!

Turn on the TV for any length of time in the evening these days and -- in addition to presidential campaign ads -- you're likely to see a commercial to advertise the Empire State as an ideal place to do business. "This is the new New York," the ad states, "where small business is big business." Images to symbolize happy success stories -- Steinway & Sons' pianos, Perry's ice cream, Kopper's chocolate -- pulse to jazz music throughout the 30-second spot. The ad touts "$1 billion in new incentives and tax breaks," along with the 50,000 businesses that were born in New York "last year alone." It's upbeat and cheery; it's enough to make would-be entrepreneurs in Oklahoma consider -- for the briefest of seconds -- forgoing the bright smiles and expansive vistas of the friendly flatlands to move north. Lest you ever feel so tempted, we remind you of the following:

1. The cost of living in Oklahoma is the lowest in the country -- and the cost of doing business is among the top 5 lowest.

According to a CNBC special report, Oklahoma is the No. 1 state in the nation in terms of cost of living and the No. 4 state in the nation in terms of the cost of doing business. As the report states, "From housing to food and energy, wages go further when the cost of living is low." Not currently an Oklahoma resident? Check out our cost-of-living calculator to find out how much farther a dollar goes here than elsewhere.

2. Oklahoma's leaders are smart about taxes.

Oklahoma has eliminated its punitive death tax and Oklahomans are currently considering a measure to exempt all intangible property from taxation. Admittedly, we're sandwiched between two states that are especially solid when it comes to income tax rates -- Texas has no income tax and Kansas just implemented the largest tax cut in its history -- but we also have a governor who has continually expressed a desire to substantially lower the income tax rate.

3. Oklahoma is a "Right to Work" state.

In 2001, Oklahoma voters passed a constitutional amendment to give workers the choice of whether to join or financially support a union (i.e. to become a "Right to Work" state). As OCPA fellows J. Scott Moody and Wendy P. Warcholik explain, "RTW has been a boon for Oklahoma. Manufacturing output and productivity have outpaced the competition, and people from non-RTW states are voting with their feet by moving to Oklahoma in increasing numbers."

4. Oklahoma leaders recently passed comprehensive lawsuit reform.

Last year, Gov. Mary Fallin signed three lawsuit reform bills into law. Examining just one of those bills -- House Bill 2128 -- indicates why this was a clear sign Oklahoma is open for business. House Bill 2128 placed a $350,000 hard cap on non-economic damages. As the governor's staff summarized after the bill became law, "Caps on non-economic damages have been proven to help create jobs and lower medical liability insurance premiums in other states. A 2008 study by the Perryman Group reports that after implementing non-economic damage caps, the state of Texas created 223,700 jobs, increased annual consumer and business spending by $55.3 billion, and grew state revenues by $1.4 billion. The study also reported that medical liability insurance premiums decreased by 21.3 percent and the number of lawsuits filed against hospitals decreased by 70 percent."

5. Oklahoma has the best city in the country.

According to the On Numbers Economic Index, Oklahoma City consistently ranks as the top metro area in the country in terms of private-sector job growth, unemployment, earnings, housing-price appreciation, and construction and retail activity. The No. 2 city -- Austin, Texas -- is more than four points behind.

AND a bonus sixth reason: Kevin Durant thinks Oklahoma is an optimal place to start a business. What more do you need to know? Thunder up!

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