How is Tulsa is facing this new economic reality?

Now that the oil bust has done all the damage it can do, local companies are readjusting and beginning to stabilize.



Greg Bollinger

For the past three years, the oil bust weighed down Tulsa. Thousands lost their jobs, survivors spent their money more carefully and corporations thought twice about opening new locations in the area.

That weight was eased in 2017. Not because oil prices have recovered; at the time of this writing, most oil price forecasts predict an overabundance of supply and continued flat demand from China and other countries will keep oil prices low through 2018. Yet most companies have stopped cutting away their workforces or canceling expansion plans.

Simply put, the oil bust has done all the damage it can. Residents and corporations alike already have tightened their belts and adjusted to this new economic reality, and everyone’s now ready to move forward, says Bob Ball, director of economic research at the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

“We’re no longer losing jobs,” Ball says. “Even with oil prices being what they are, we’re starting to slowly add jobs.”

As of October, Tulsa’s unemployment rate stood at 4.4 percent, around the same rate unemployment stood when oil prices started to plummet in 2014. October’s national rate was 4.1 percent, which includes the majority of the country that didn’t have to experience the full impact of the oil bust.

Ball says Tulsa’s traditional ability to outperform the national unemployment average was upheld even during the worst of the localized downturn. Now that the pain and uncertainty has started to lift, Tulsa has the opportunity to stand out from other similarly sized metro areas once again.

That said, he believes an oil recovery would absolutely benefit the area, even if it isn’t in the cards for now.

“If oil can sustain a price of $57-$59 in 2018, steady growth should occur,” he says. “Tempered production by major oil producers has held prices higher. Worldwide demand for oil is beginning to grow again. Mid-year 2018 is when OPEC and Russia will reassess their production cuts.” 

Ball’s prediction is for overall Tulsa employment to grow by 1.3 percent annually for the next five years. The energy sector will grow at about 1.2 percent as the industry rebuilds with stable oil prices in the $57-$59 range. Manufacturing is the brightest spot for growth with an expected average annual growth of 2.8 percent for the next five years, with aerospace and fabricated metals being standouts.

David Roberts, a commercial broker with Coldwell Banker Select, says oil isn’t the only obstacle that has been overcome in the past year. Presidential election years always cause some degree of uncertainty and hesitation from regular citizens and businesses alike, and this one was definitely no exception.

“Our economy took a big turn after Nov. 8,” he says. “Before the election, nobody wanted to do anything because no one knew what was going to happen. After the election, the floodgates opened up.”

Local politics can play a role in commercial development as well, and Roberts is bullish on the impact of Mayor G.T. Bynum.

“Tulsa’s been a better market because we’ve got new leadership with our new mayor, and I think we’re going to see the mayor and city council work together to bring new business to Tulsa,” Roberts says.

Ball reports the Chamber is now fielding more inquiries from regional and national companies looking to expand and potentially establish regional headquarters in the metro area, which would help diversify the local economy.

More jobs means more people could choose to make Tulsa their home. In fact, that might already be happening. According to the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors, 12,281 homes changed hands during the first 10 months of the year, up nearly 1 percent from 2016.

What’s more, long-term Tulsans are becoming less hesitant to put their homes on the market and find new ones. After years of shrinking inventory, the number of homes for sale finally started to increase in 2017.

Combine that with higher sale prices — the average reached $199,694, up 17 percent from 2016 — and you’ve got a strong indication that even committed residents are ready to spend more money in general, Ball says.

He estimates Tulsa’s overall consumer spending has stayed strong, and it likely equals the national average spending rate.

“We’ve continued to spend disproportionately better than the jobs outlook, which was consistent with the last recession,” he says. “People kept filling parking lots in restaurants.”

Even with the downturn, Tulsa is becoming a more attractive place to live, with numerous development projects in play, including downtown.

Then there’s the Gathering Place. The $400-plus million, 100-acre park being developed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation will offer numerous activities for families when Phase 1 is finished in 2018.

Ball says the visibility and attractiveness of these projects will help pull in workers and employers alike for the entire metro area, not just near downtown.

“Anytime you offer any kind of amenity that’s attractive to a young workforce, it helps,” he says. “People want to be where there are things going on, and we’ve got plenty going on.”

But the abundance of new amenities and redevelopment brings challenges, too. Roberts says tenant mobility back to downtown areas, as well as tenants taking advantage of new developments in the southern part of the metro area, means older properties could become overlooked.

“Our concern is that the new shopping centers were dominating, and older shopping centers had to come up with incentives to make them attractive,” Roberts says.

To make matters thornier for retail properties, a wave of national brands have suffered due to stiff competition from Amazon and other online retailers. Those closures have resulted in more empty spaces in Tulsa.

“Though some individual centers will be affected, I don’t think these closures will affect the retail market as a whole,” he says.

Even so, retail continues to grow around Tulsa. Projects including Shops at Warren Place and the Mother Road Market announced impending construction, and two long-struggling centers, Riverwalk Crossing and Midtown Village, are starting to improve.

Ball says Tulsa’s fundamentals are improving; the long-term employment outlook will move beyond simple stabilization to strength, and corporations are looking to grow in Tulsa.

Roberts also is optimistic, though he’s already bracing for the next cyclical challenges.

“I think things will continue to trend up, at least until the next election,” he says.

 

 

 

 

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the Tulsa Commercial Properties publication of the Oklahoma National Association of Industrial and Office Properties Chapter. It was edited for length and some statistics updated.

 

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November 2018

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

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Over the past thirteen years, the Williams Route 66 Marathon presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has become a 26.2-mile party! You might find yourself asking "Is this a race or...

Cost: $110

Where:
Downtown Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74066


Sponsor: Williams, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-408-1208
Contact Name: Ally Lightle
Website »

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FlyingTee is fun for the whole family and on Sundays, kids eat free! *Limit one free meal from the kids’ menu with each purchase of an adult entrée. Not valid on brunches or holidays.

Cost: Free with purchase

Where:
FlyingTee
600 Riverwalk Terrace
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 918-528-7717
Website »

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When four lost New Englanders who enroll in Marty’s six-week-long community-center drama class begin to experiment with harmless games, hearts are quietly torn apart, and tiny wars of epic...

Cost: $20

Where:
Studio 308
308 S. Lansing Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

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Come see the ORU Mens Basketball team vs Ecclesia

Cost: $10-$20

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Ave
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: https://mabeecenter.com/event/ecclesia1819m/
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

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Come and Support ORU Women's Basketball as they jump into another exciting season. Join in on the fun and purchase your tickets today! All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will...

Cost: $7

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74171
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We would like to invite our Tulsa neighbors to join us for our "Hope House Free Movie Night" in the auditorium Hope House events are open to the public, family friendly, events.  We will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hope House
4241 S 37th W Ave.
TULSA
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Hope House
Telephone: 918-446-8176
Contact Name: Dorothy Brown

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Every Wednesday Live Event Trivia is at The Willows Family Ales - Show starts at 7 and is free to play! Movie scenes, Finish the Lyric, Classic Trivia, and more! The crew from T-Town Tacos will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Telephone: (918) 895-6798
Contact Name: Julian Morgan
Website »

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Local, Live Music at the The Willows Family Ales taproom EVERY Thursday at 7:30pm. Surprise food vendor to be announced SOON!! 11/1 ---- Eric Himan 11/8 ---- Wendy Nichol Hall 11/15---...

Cost: FREE!!

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
418 South Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Contact Name: Julian Morgan

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Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium (TASM) will celebrate Black Fly-day Weekend in place of the regular shopping holiday on Nov. 23 and 24.  The Museum plans to open their...

Cost: Free - $15

Where:
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
3624 North 74th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74115
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
Telephone: 918-834-9900
Contact Name: Kevin
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events, Santa,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events, Santa,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium (TASM) will celebrate Black Fly-day Weekend in place of the regular shopping holiday on Nov. 23 and 24.  The Museum plans to open their...

Cost: Free - $15

Where:
Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
3624 North 74th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74115
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium
Telephone: 918-834-9900
Contact Name: Kevin
Website »

More information

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Reconnect with family and friends in the garden illuminated with colorful lights. Make s'mores over fire pits, enjoy holiday music and take in the spirit of the season in our magical garden...

Cost: Tickets are $15 for ages 13+; $5 for ages 3-12, Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden

More information

Philbrook Festival is back and better than ever! Enjoy the most beautiful place in Oklahoma during the most wonderful time of the year. The Museum comes alive with festive holiday events,...

Cost: $5/Philbrook Members, $15/Public, Free/17 & Under

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S. Rockford Rd.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Philbrook Museum of Art
Telephone: 918-748-5300
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

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The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
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Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

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TULtalk


Episode 7: Elizabeth Frame Ellison, CEO of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation

Elizabeth Frame Ellison discusses the brand-new Mother Road Market, Tulsa’s first food hall, located on historic Route 66.

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Charitable Events: November 2018

Fundraisers and fun happenings

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Video: Apple Blackberry Crumble Pie Recipe

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Oklahoma Caring Awards

The Oklahoma Caring Awards raised $76,000 for the Hospitality House of Tulsa.

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Santorini Night

A fundraiser for Emergency Infant Services, the event was presented by the Tulsa Greek Festival and kicked off Greek Week.

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