Tulsa is setting the stage for an industrial boom, and young people are flocking to seize growing employment opportunities.
The Oklahoma city has been burgeoning with multibillion-dollar company developments from American Airlines to Amazon. A recent bid from Tesla’s Elon Musk put the city on the map to an even greater scale.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to accelerate e-commerce and industrial real estate needs, and cities like Tulsa are stocked to capitalize on the trickle-down effects. As Tulsa evolves at a newfound pace, its civic leaders, philanthropists and business leaders are making new efforts to attract young people.
This year alone, the city invested $50 million to build workforce development programs in energy, technology, drones, cybertechnology, data analytics and others. Musk’s interest in Tulsa as a potential location to develop a Cybertruck plant further catapulted its stature, even though the electric vehicle company ultimately decided to build the factory in Austin, Texas.
In fact, over 2,500 project engineers said they would move to Tulsa to work at Tesla, according to a recruiting website set up by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Initiatives like Tulsa Remote have launched a new wave of interest to the area. The program, which provides workers across industries with a $10,000 incentive to move to Tulsa and work remotely for one year, has drawn even more interest amid the coronavirus economy.
Launched prior to the pandemic in 2018, the program has supplied the city with a foundation for success at a time when remote working is the new normal.
With brick-and-mortar offices no longer essential to business, Tulsa Remote continues to draw in hundreds of young, mid-career professionals who are relocating to the city and enjoy working remotely.
“The popularity of programs like Tulsa Remote really speak to the interest in moving to mid-sized pockets like Tulsa that offer a great quality of life but still affordability,” said Kian Kamas, the city's economic development chief.
“People have learned that you don’t have to be located in San Francisco or New York or Chicago to work for a technology firm or work for any other company, for that matter," Kamas said. "So if you have the ability to work anywhere, why would you want to live in one of those high-cost markets?”
For individuals living in an expensive city like San Francisco but wanting to start a family with a strong financial footing, the remote program gives Tulsa a unique pitch and opportune place to live and work, according to Kamas.
“Tulsa offers a great quality of life with amenities that other big cities have but on a smaller scale,” Josh Miller of the Kaiser foundation told FOX Business. “Folks are also tired of being in the big cities, and COVID-19 has further re-emphasized that message.”
Even with remote opportunities, Tulsa’s job industry is ripe for opportunity as it continues to draw in distribution centers and manufacturing plants. In March, global appliance manufacturer Whirlpool opened its second facility in Tulsa, adding 150 jobs.
Tulsa is known for its manufacturing-heavy economy, but development has shifted to diversify its grounds. And the city’s geographic location, situated at the Arkansas River and connected to the Port of Catoosa, the nation’s largest, most inland river port, has lured in real estate bids from growing industries.
“The city has focused considerably on diversifying its economy,” Tulsa's Deputy Chief of Economic Development Michelle Barnett said. “Aerospace has historically been our strong point, so we have a tremendous manufacturing space that grows out of that. But now we are handling the boom effects that are calling to those industries.”