Last Week's Business Development Events
Thank you to Heff's Burgers for hosting Breakfast B4 Business this month! Click here for more photos.
And thank you to The Chateau of Lawton for hosting Business After Hours! Click here for more photos.
Save the Date for Our Holiday Open House
Join us in celebrating the holiday season!
For more information, call the Chamber at 580-355-3541.
We're Thankful for Our Members
We are thankful for our members and their support for creating economic opportunities and enhancing the quality of life for Lawton.
The chamber will be closed Nov. 23 and 24 in observance of Thanksgiving. It will reopen 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday.
Shop Local, Shop Chamber This Holiday Season
Before you begin planning your holiday shopping, remember your local businesses. This year, several local businesses will be participating in the top three national shopping holidays -- Black Friday (Nov. 24), Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 27). Click here for the Chamber Directory, and happy shopping!
Lawton Public Schools passes $99.5 million dollar bond
Press release from Lawton Public Schools
Lawton Public Schools (LPS) defied the odds Tuesday by passing the largest bond issue in the history of the district. The $99.5 million measure targets technology, safe rooms, student equipment and replacement of Eisenhower Middle School. The LPS Student Investment Program (SIP) represents an investment larger than all bonds passed since 1972 combined.
“Support from a diverse coalition of community partners has been the key to the success of the Student Investment Program,” according to LPS Superintendent Tom Deighan. “I have never seen a community pull together with such unity.”
Historically, Lawton-Fort Sill has not supported school bond measures. Tuesday’s vote was only the sixth bond passed since 1972.
“The Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce was a key factor in this success," Deighan said. "We could not have done this without their direct support and involvement. The chamber represents one of several community partners who assisted in registering voters, sharing information and encouraging people to vote in the November 14 bond election. They have a long history of supporting students and educators."
After the election, Deighan said the approval of the Student Investment Proposal "represents much more than just the financial commitment, it sends a strong message of trust and support to our students and educators."
“We know that Lawton-Fort Sill values and supports education,” he said.
Now that the bond has passed, the district will immediately move forward on the projects. Ground-breaking for the middle school and safe-rooms are planned for the spring; technology and equipment will begin arriving in classrooms next fall.
In recent years, Lawton Public Schools has made several big improvements to include modest raises for staff as well as increases in technology and learning materials. Despite the challenges facing Oklahoma schools, this Southwest Oklahoma school district has reversed the trend locally.
“On behalf of the Board of Education, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the Lawton-Fort Sill community for supporting our students and educators,” Deighan said, “and thank you for proving to the state and nation that Lawton Can.”
Thomas Inducted Into CareerTech Hall of Fame
Dr. Tom Thomas was inducted into the 2017 CareerTech Hall of Fame on Nov. 8 at the Canadian Valley Tech Center. Below is a video produced by CareerTech outlining Thomas' longstanding career. Congratulations, Dr. Tom!
St. Andrew's to Host 'From Darkness to Light' Concert
“From Darkness to Light: A Concert of Lessons and Carols”
When: 6 p.m. Dec. 14
Where: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1313 SW D
Take a break from the busy Christmas rush for a candlelight concert in the quiet of beauty of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. First performed at St. Paul’s in London, this beautiful liturgy tells the story of our spiritual journey from darkness and confusion to the clear light of Christ’s love through scripture readings, prayers, psalms and hymns. Donations from this concert will go toward the continuing hurricane recovery efforts through the Episcopal Relief and Development and to local St. Andrew’s Ministries. For more information call 580-355-9543.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Choir, under the direction of Debra Flores, is looking for some extra singers to help celebrate our common spiritual journey in “From Darkness to Light.” The performance will be 6 p.m. Dec. 14, in the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church sanctuary. Rehearsals are on Sunday afternoons from 12:15-1:15 p.m. starting Nov. 19 through Dec. 10 at St. Andrew’s. One evening rehearsal may be scheduled but not required by all members. For more information, contact Debra Flores at 580-357-6312 (text preferred) or call St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 580-355-9543.
Co-Op and Lawton Honored During Celebration
On Nov. 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn, the Lawton Fort Sill Co-Op hosted its annual Dinges Awards Celebration, which highlighted a myriad of cooperative events. The Oklahoma Blood Institute and Fort Sill were honored for their blood drive as having the Most Volunteers and being the Most Impactful. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Fort Sill were honored as the Most Creative with their Halloween carnival.
The celebration also presented The Hassan Cara Volunteer of the Year Award to Mary Spannagel with Oklahoma Blood Institute. The award is given annually to an individual that has demonstrated unselfish, exemplary service in his or her role as a Co-Op volunteer. Also during the celebration, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) presented the City of Lawton a Distinguished Service Award recognizing Lawton-Fort Sill’s support of the Homeless Veterans Outreach Campaign.
Mary Spannagel, center, was honored with The Hassan Cara Volunteer of the Year Award. She is pictured with Vicki Hendron, left, and Nate Slate, right.
From left, Joe Gallagher and Doug Wells accept the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Distinguished Service Award from Gus Rodriguez, Fourth AUSA Region President.
November BAH At The Chateau
November's Business After Hours will be hosted by The Chateau of Lawton beginning at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16. Located at 6302 SW Lee. The Chateau of Lawton is an apartment community for senior adults who want to enjoy life without the stress of home ownership. To learn more about what The Chateau of Lawton has to offer, click here.
Co-Op to Host Dinges Celebration Nov. 9
The Lawton-Fort Sill Co-Op is scheduled to host its annual Dinges Awards Celebration from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 135 NW 2nd.
The celebration will highlight a myriad of cooperative events while recognizing specific events as having the most volunteers, being the most creative and/or the most impactful. The celebration will also present The Hassen Cara Volunteer of the Year Award, which is given annually to an individual that has demonstrated unselfish, exemplary service in his or her role as a Co-Op volunteer. During the celebration, the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) will present the City of Lawton a Distinguished Service Award recognizing the city's support of the Homeless Veterans Outreach Campaign.
Military Affairs Bids Farewell to McKiernans
On Oct. 30 at the Lawton Country Club, the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee hosted a farewell reception for Major General Brian McKiernan and Dr. Sharon McKiernan. The committee gifted the McKiernans with a plaque featuring an aerial photo of Lawton and an Oklahoma horseshoe. Click here to view photos from the ceremony.
Support the LPS Bond Proposal, Vote Nov. 14
The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce is proud to support the Lawton Public Schools Bond Proposal. Our Board Chairman, Nate Slate, explains how the proposal will support STEM education and why it's important. #LawtonCAN
On Nov. 14, Lawtonians will vote on the Lawton Public Schools Bond Proposal. The Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation supports this bond issue, and LEDC Chairman Phil Kennedy encourages voters to support this bond as well. #LawtonCAN
November BB4B at Heff's Burgers
November's Breakfast B4 Business will be hosted by Heff's Burgers, located at 3807A NW Cache Rd. Starting at 8 a.m. Nov. 14, come check out the franchise's first location outside of Texas right here in Lawton. Click here to read more about how Heff's Burgers went from selling burgers out of a convenience store to being a franchise.
Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo Wrap Up
The 2017 Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo featured over 50 vendors and 300 visitors. Thank you to those who came out and supported local businesses! Click here for photos.
The Home Chaperone of Lawton Vickie Payne
Continued from Monday Minute 10/30/2017
Mayor Gives State of the City Address
Although a cold and bitter front was sweeping across Lawton, Mayor Fred Fitch delivered a warm and positive State of the City address during a luncheon on Oct. 27 at the Hilton Garden Inn.
The following information is adapted from the City of Lawton 2017 State of the City publication provided during the luncheon.
Fitch began his address by thanking those in attendance and the citizens that have supported Lawton in the previous year and beyond. His address outlined Lawton's success, the city's methodologies and what Lawton hopes to attain and gain within the next coming years. He stated that the 2016-17 fiscal year saw "tremendous progress" with the fruition of some of the Capital Improvement Projects, including the Elmer Thomas Park Splash Pad, Fire Station No. 8 and the Second Street Enhancement Project. The city completed the first year of its internal Wellness Program by expanding employee benefit options and providing merit raises to all employees in every division. The city also boosted the economy by working alongside Retail Coach, a business recruitment firm, for the second consecutive year and by acting upon ideals to keel sales tax local. And last, but not least, Lawton citizens approved $55.3 million worth of arterial and residential street upgrades to Lawton.
Looking towards the future, Fitch focused on five priorities. Priority No. One focused on creating a safer city. The city has worked for the police union to increase the entry-level salary by 20 percent and provided multiple incentive payments to existing officers -- all in an effort to boost recruitment and retention. Law enforcement personnel will see an increase to 199 by the year 2019. And with the construction of the new public Safety Facility and Fire Station No. 8, the city hopes to provide its citizens the opportunity to attain lower home owner insurance rates.
Priority No. Two focused on exploring water conservation and technologies. The city's consulting engineer is near completing the Alternative Water Source Feasibility Study, which has analyzed reuse water and groundwater from the Arbuckle Timberhill Aquifer. Ten test holes were drilled across Lawton and six show promise toward increasing the city's overall raw water supply by 7 to 10 million gallons per day. And Garver Engineering is currently analyzing the level of treatment necessary to provide quality drinking water standard.
Priority No. Three focused on monitoring Fort Sill developments. Fitch said the relationship between the city, community leaders, congressional delegates and military counterparts are second to none. Those efforts resulted in an increase of 800 soldiers at Fort Sill over the past two years. The city furthermore supports Fort Sill's efforts as an integral leader in no only the community but also the United States Department of Defense -- from the opening of the first USO Office, providing for local families, the MFIX 2017 event and experimenting with lasers to defend against Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
Priority No. Four focused on monitoring the general fund budget. Fitch praised the city management for not only delivering a well-balanced budget, but for the city's finance team for producing backlogged audits and working with department heads to reduce expenditures matching given reductions in revenues. The Fiscal Year 1017-18 budget was passed by city council in May of this year and it includes a 2.2 percent utility rate increase that is expected to generate $735,000 for the City of Lawton. Setting Lawton up for long term success will be forward-thinking strategies allowing CPI-recommended increases and more energy and cost effective operations.
Priority No. Five focused on building community partners. Fitch highlighted the the Carey Johnson Oil-EZ Go, Sparq Natural Gas and the City of Lawton's agreement to install Lawton's first natural gas filling station, located on Southwest 6th Street. These public-private partnerships set a new precedent for long-lasting community partnerships. He also boasted in the city's establishment of a Community Relations Director, Tiffany Martinez Vrska, this past year, which demonstrates the city's commitment to visibility, transparency and community engagement. Moving forward, Fitch said Lawton will be marketed as "a city of greatness" and "a city on the move."
Fitch also proposed a sixth priority, which focuses on pursuing technological advancements. He said the city council has authorized staff to work with the Council Committee for Improved Technology to prepare a Request for Proposal. The request will be to provide the city with a comprehensive Information Technology "Efficiency and Opportunity," which will be an analysis of systems, operations and manpower, as well as the level of training and expertise necessary to move forward in replacing the city's antiquated operating system in the next CPI.
Wrapping up his address, Fitch asked for the audience's continued support and prayers for the City of Lawton. He gave final thanks to the event's sponsors and the present members of council. He also urged for the audience's support of the Lawton Public Schools Bond Proposal, which will be on the Nov. 14 ballot. Fitch concluded by saying he's thankful to be the mayor of Lawton and is looking forward to next year.
Click here for pictures from the State of the City Luncheon.
CVB Director Attends Tourism Summit
On Oct. 23, Taylor Burgess, director of the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau, traveled to Sulphur for the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association's second Lt. Governor's Travel and Tourism Summit hosted by Chickasaw Country.
This was the second year for Taylor to attend the summit. She spent the day engaging with fellow tourism colleagues from across the state while learning about the best practices to promote our region's tourism. The summit also featured a town hall-type discussion by Lt. Governor Todd Lamb on tourism development in each of the areas visited around the state.
For more information on the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association, visit its website.
Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Travel Industry Association
Inkin Oklahoma Comes to Lawton
Inkin Oklahoma Tattoo Convention will make its first appearance in Lawton Oct. 27-29 at the Apache Casino Hotel. The convention will feature tattoo artists from across the nation. A full list of artists/vendors and a schedule of events can be found at inkinoklahoma.com. The Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau is one of the sponsors for the Inkin Oklahoma Tattoo Convention.
The convention will bring in an influx of visitors, and is open to the public. Day passes will be sold at the door. For more information, visit the Inkin Oklahoma website.
Young Professionals to Host Mentor Event
Young Professionals of Lawton will host a mentor event titled "Why Lawton?" from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 24 at Cameron University in Ross Hall.
The event will feature a panel discussion of local leaders, including Mark Rodriguez, owner of JAMARK, LLC; Jason Hensley, vice president of City National Bank; Yvonne Landmark, owner of The UPS Store; and Shay Hayes, owner of Viridian Coffee. The panel will focus on why they chose to build their respective businesses in Lawton. During the event, Viridian Coffee will be served and attendees will have a chance to participate in a raffle for two, one-night stays at Spring Hill Suites.
For more information, visit Young Professionals of Lawton's Facebook page. The event is free and open to the public.
Help the Food Bank
Admittance to the Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will be a donation of two nonperishable food items. All items will be donated to the Lawton Food Bank. According to the food bank's website, last year the Lawton Food Bank fed 13,682 families, equalling to 29,478 individual family members. Therefore, an entry to the Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will greatly serve those in the Lawton community who need food.
The Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will take place from 4-8 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum. For more information, contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bison Auction Set for Oct. 19
Th 2017 Bison Auction will take place Oct. 19 at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge corrals. The refuge corrals are located immediately north of the Refuge Headquarters, 12 miles northwest of Cache, Okla. off Highway 49.
The number of animals to be auctioned varies from year to year, but generally consists of cows or bulls which are no longer needed for reproduction within the herd and excess calves of the year.
The auction will began at noon Oct. 19. Starting at 11 a.m. prior to the auction, the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau and its Ag Committee will serve lunch to the participants. The lunch is provided by the Great Plains Coliseum and includes a hamburger, chips, potato salad baked beans and a drink for $5.
Buyers and visitors alike are welcome to attend the auction and enjoy Southwest Oklahoma and the refuge hospitality.
Perks While You Work
At the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, we never stop working for our members. Even if our members are unable to participate in chamber events, we're still working for them. Below is a list of the chamber's "Perks While You Work."
Business After Hours at Expo VIP Reception
This month's Business After Hours will take place during the VIP Reception at this year's Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo. The VIP reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum, 920 SW Sheridan. Tickets will be needed to get into the reception. The tickets will be mailed to chamber members prior to the expo. Attendees must be 21 to enter.
For more information, email Sharleen Gehers at email@example.com.
Get Noticed by 350 People During the Expo
Do you want 350 people to notice your business in just one day? That's possible if you become a vendor at the Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo.
The expo will take place Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum, 920 SW Sheridan. As a vendor, you'll also have access to training videos to help your business before, during and after the expo. Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to support your business.
Click here for the vendor application.
For more information, contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn What's to Come for Lawton at the State of the City
Mayor Fred Fitch will discuss what's in Lawton's future during the State of the City Luncheon at noon on Oct. 27 at the Hilton Garden Inn Bison Room. Com hear how Lawton's progressing.
Tickets are $20 for Chamber Members and $25 for General Admission. Limited seating available. Purchase of tickets will be available until Oct. 18. Reservations not cancelled within 72 hours will still have to pay. Click here to register.
Sponsorships are available for a limited time. For more information please contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or email@example.com.
Photo taken during the new Public Safety Facility groundbreaking on Oct. 2.
Silver-Line Plastics to Host Meeting in Lawton
Silver-Line Plastics will host its National Sales and Marketing Meeting Oct. 18-19 in Lawton. This will be the first time for Silver-Line Plastics to host its National Sales and Marketing Meeting outside its offices in Asheville, North Carolina. Around 30 of its management will participate in its meetings at the Great Plains Technology Center, touring the Silver-Line Plastics Plant, attending dinner and touring Medicine Park.
The Lawton Fort Sill Visitors and Convention Bureau is sponsoring Silver-Line Plastics' National Sales and Marketing Meeting. Silver-Line Plastics is one of Lawton’s biggest businesses and the Lawton Fort Sill Visitors and Convention Bureau is excited to have them in the community.
Vendors Could Win a Trip for the Whole Family
Vendors participating in the 2017 Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will be entered in for a chance to win a trip for four to Branson, Missouri, courtesy of Apache Casino. Click here for a vendor application.
The 2017 Southwest Oklahoma Business Expo will take place Oct. 26 at the Great Plains Coliseum. For more information, contact Sharleen Gehers at 580-355-3541 or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Chamber Member Reception Oct. 4, 2017
We had a great time at the New Chamber Member Reception on Oct. 4, 2017, at the chamber. Thank you to all who came out, and a special shoutout to Cherry Berry for the delicious froyo and to Scott's House of Flowers for the beautiful centerpieces. Click here for more photos.
Breakfast B4 Business at Classic Chevrolet
We enjoyed Breakfast B4 Business at Classic Chevrolet this month on Oct. 3. Thank you to all who attended! Click here for more pictures.