Leadership Notes: Despite pandemic, there are reasons to feel good about where OKC is headed
This is not going to be my typical end of year letter - because this year has been anything but typical. To say that things didn’t go exactly as planned is a giant understatement.
Despite the massive upheaval of 2020, and what will surely be a difficult 2021, there are still a number of reasons to feel good about where our region is headed.
First, our employment remains strong. While our unemployment rate climbed from its 2.5% low in January to a high of 14.8% in April, it is now down to 4.9% in November - the lowest in the U.S. for large metros. And our jobless claims have declined for 21 straight weeks. We know these rates don’t tell the complete story, but we can tell that there is still strength in our market.
Our economic development activity is also up. When you combine announcements from Costco, SkyDweller and others with a robust pipeline of prospects, we are clearly on the radar of companies and site consultants, particularly in our aerospace and back office/shared services sectors. These projects are bringing jobs and stability into the market.
And finally, I am optimistic about the rebound of our hospitality industry. We were able to host team sports and equine events in 2020 that just couldn’t occur in other places. Attendance at these events was higher than normal, providing revenue sorely needed in the industry. Our new convention center is complete this month, with the Omni to follow quickly behind in January - positioning Oklahoma City to be able to offer the very best of facilities as meetings and travel begin their rebound in late 2021.
I want to thank each of you for everything you did, and are doing, to make yourself, your company and our community stronger in 2021. Thank you for staying in the game and staying with the Chamber.