Whether it’s a movie filming in the city or a mom-and-pop shop debut, Tulsa is a haven for small businesses and firms. One indicator includes an increase of gross state product by 4.2 percent, compared to 2.2 percent overall growth in the nation’s gross domestic product, according to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy 2014 report.
“Oklahoma is not only economically advantageous to those starting a business, but the state’s business-friendly climate and history of entrepreneurial culture makes the state fertile ground for innovation and small business endeavors,” says Leslie Blair, legislative liaison and public information officer for the Oklahoma State Department of Commerce. “Small businesses in Oklahoma have access to an array of business financing programs and small business support services. Some services across the state include small business training, networking opportunities with local chambers and the availability of business incubators and free international trade services.”
This entrepreneur-friendly reputation is backed by several studies and reports, perhaps most recently by WalletHub, which listed the city in the top five in the country for access to capital, lower cost of living, corporate taxes and workforce education; Tulsa ranked No. 1 for industry variety.
Larry Weatherford affirms this assessment. He is the public affairs officer for the Small Business Administration and serves as the state’s veterans business development officer.[pullquote]Oklahoma is not only economically advantageous to those starting a business, but the state’s business-friendly climate and history of entrepreneurial culture makes the state fertile ground for innovation and small business endeavors.”[/pullquote]
“Oklahoma is ideal for veterans to come and start a business after their military duty because their retirement checks will go further,” says Weatherford. “And for all businesses, there is a benefit to this great global position by shipping product via the Port of Catoosa. Then there is Tulsa’s comparatively lower cost of business for fixed costs such as rent and fuel.”
While known for strength in the energy sector, other industries also thrive in the Tulsa region, says Clarence Fisher, president of Tulsa IM, an international marketing consulting and fulfillment firm.
“Tulsa is a great place to do business, especially for those in manufacturing or tech fields,” Fisher says. “There’s an air of entrepreneurship here – you can feel it. Nearly everyone you run into works for or owns a small business and can relate to the goals and challenges that small businesses face. We’re all building something. City officials continue to create programs to attract and keep small businesses. There are tons of free and low cost resources, including mentoring to aid new business owners in achieving success. Tulsa’s also centrally located, so meetings in San Diego or Atlanta are similar distances apart. It’s also a great place to raise a family. Tulsa’s full of good people.”
Melissa Parchman, president of Tulsa-based health insurance brokers Magoon & Associates, spends her days helping small businesses with health insurance.
“I have found being a small business owner in Tulsa to be very easy and rewarding,” she says. “The population is very friendly and seems to enjoy doing business person to person. Being a small business allows me that opportunity to still have hands-on experience with my clients. The health insurance industry has changed the way we do business and made my expertise even more valuable.”
Help in many forms is available to those thinking of starting a small business, including the Small Business Administration’s programs like SCORE, in which successful business owners mentor entrepreneurs free of charge, says Tara Pennington, SCORE program support assistant. In addition to counseling, in many cases assistance in obtaining and guaranteeing commercial loans is also available.