In economic development as in real estate, there are some things you can’t change and often the key to making a deal is “location, location, location.”
The Stillwater Chamber of Commerce recently hosted its annual Economic Summit with guest speakers Eric Long, research economist for economic development with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and Oklahoma State Department of Commerce Director Brent Kisling.
And the message was: There is work to be done but Stillwater is well-positioned for economic growth in a variety of ways, certainly in a literal, geographic sense.
Stillwater is fortunate to be located within an hour of Oklahoma’s two largest metro areas and just under two hours from Wichita, Kansas. That means 2.5 million people live within a 90 minute drive from Stillwater, Long said.
Payne County is part of the 10-county Greater Oklahoma City Region that has a population of 1.52 million and a labor force of more than 765,000. Since 2005, the regional population has grown at twice the national rate.
The entire 10-county region functions as a single market for labor, and offers an easy commute with 50 miles equaling 50 minutes in the car. The average commute for the Greater Oklahoma City region is 21 minutes.
Oklahoma also lies in the mid range of the I-35 Megalopolis population corridor that includes almost 20 million people and stretches about 813 miles from San Antonio to Kansas City.
It had the highest rate of job growth of any Megalopolitan area in the U.S. at 20%, and added more than 9.7 million jobs 2005-2018.
Within Oklahoma, Payne County employers do a good job of attracting workers and providing jobs for residents, with only about 15% of the county’s workers commuting to other places, according to demographic reports Long presented.
An estimated 55% of Payne County’s population finds work within the county. More people come from other areas to work in Payne County than leave the county to find work elsewhere.
A majority of workers from Payne County who do leave the county for employment commute to the Oklahoma City area.
Long gave a quick overview of hot jobs in Payne County based on the number of opening listed over the past three months.
The most active job postings that require a high school diploma or less were:
The most active job postings that require a college degree were:
Oklahoma hopes to attract more technology workers by offering an $1,800 - $2,200 state tax credit for qualified employees involved in the software engineering and cybersecurity fields. The employer must go through a certification process and meet certain requirements before its employees can claim the credit.
Kisling told the audience that positive things are in the works. Several of the biggest deals the Department of Commerce is involved in right now are centered around Stillwater, he said.