CHAMBER URGES SUPPORT OF CURRENT LEGISLATION
Lawton, OKLAHOMA – The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce strongly supports legislation that is beneficial to the business community, educators, and the state as a whole.
Recently two bills were passed in the House of Representatives, House Bill 1845 and House Bill 1114. HB 1845 also passed the Senate and has been signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin.
HB 1845 gives Oklahomans the choice of either getting a Real ID compliant license or keeping their current Oklahoma driver’s license. HB 1114 calls for teacher pay raises across the state.
“The Chamber applauds the House for passing both bills making us Real ID compliant and taking steps to raise teacher pay,” said Chairman of the Board Mark Brace. “The Chamber absolutely supports a sustainable pay plan for our educators and is hopeful our legislators will craft a bill offering such a plan this year.”
The Chamber tracks bills at the Oklahoma Capitol every legislative session. This session the Chamber is tracking 16 bills.
Two of the bills the Chamber has monitored closely are HB 1187 and HB 1427. Both bills have passed the house and have been introduced in the Senate.
HB 1187 requires specific sunset dates on any new tax incentives. HB 1427 requires the Tax Commission to establish one field office in a state other than Oklahoma for purpose of collecting taxes owed. It allows the Commission to maintain a full time employee and not less than five out-of-state tax auditors
“Each year we survey our members when we begin putting together our Legislative Agendas,” said Jamie Southerland, Chamber Executive Vice President. “Part of the benefit we offer to our members is our ability to advocate for legislation they think is important.”
To learn more about Legislative Affairs at the Chamber go to www.lawtonfortsillchamber.com.
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New Members Welcomed
Twice a year the Chamber hosts a reception for our New Members. Wednesday, March 29, we invited Chamber members who joined in the past 6 months and Board of Directors to network, have some fun, and learn about the Chamber.
This reception is a chance for our newer members to meet the entire staff, Board members, and other Chamber members, as well as learn how they can best utilize their membership at the Chamber.
Please join us in welcoming this latest group of Chamber members!
Washington DC Fly-In
Last week we held the annual Washington DC Fly-In. March 22 – 23, 2017.
The Chamber organized a group of local citizens to travel to Washington DC to meet with legislators, Army and agency officials.
Highlights of the event included a reception for attendees to meet with legislators and their staffs, as well as a high-profile breakfast hosted by Senator Jim Inhofe with Army leadership. This is an opportunity that is rare and valuable to our community. Special Advanced Teams met concerning the following areas: Transportation, Fires Center of Excellence Capabilities Portfolio, Regulatory and Education.
We hope you make plans to attend next year's trip if you were unable to this year.
DC Fly In
This week a group of local citizens will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators, Army and agency officials.
“This is a chance for Chamber members to meet with some of our Nation’s leaders,” said Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mark Brace. “There are many new faces in Washington, and this will give them first hand experience with Lawton Fort Sill.”
Highlights of the event include a reception for attendees to meet with legislators and their staffs, as well as a high-profile breakfast hosted by Senator Jim Inhofe with Army leadership. This is an opportunity that is rare and valuable to our community. Special Advanced Teams will meet concerning the following areas: Transportation, Fires Center of Excellence Capabilities Portfolio, Regulatory and Education.
State Legislative Updates
Governor Mary Fallin, joined by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and House Speaker Charles McCall, signed House Bill (HB) 1845, the REAL ID compliance bill. The new law will allow persons to obtain a compliant REAL ID driver's license or identification card.
Governor Mary Fallin also signed House Joint Resolution (HJR) 1028 to approve the assessment and accountability report recommendations required by legislation (House Bill 3218) passed and signed into law last year. The key components of the report include recommendations for new assessments for Grades 3-8 and for high school students as required by the federal government, as well as a study of an enhanced accountability system. In addition, the report contained recommendations on graduation requirements, and remediation and interventions.
DC Fly-In Briefing
Attendees of the 2017 DC Fly-In met for a briefing to go over the expectations of the trip, and gain valuable information to make their experience a success.
Legislative Kick Off Luncheon
We hosted the Legislative Kick-Off Luncheon on Friday, March 10 at the Lawton Country Club.
As the state legislative session begins, this was an opportunity for guests to meet with state legislators and engage with them.
We look forward to hearing about the events of the Legislative Session at the Legislative Wrap-Up Luncheon June 10.
Thank you to our sponsors!
Business After Hours March 2017
We would like to thank Billingsley Ford of Lawton for hosting Business After Hours for March!
At the event we celebrated the Grand Re-Opening of the renovated dealership.
If you missed this event, mark your calendars now for April 4 at Planet Fitness for Business B4 Breakfast and for our next Business After Hours at Lawton Marketing Group on April 20!
Breakfast B4 Business - March 2017
Tuesday, March 7, Sleep Inn and Suites hosted Business B4 Breakfast.
Attendees got to mingle and get a great breakfast before they headed off to work!
We would like to thank Sleep Inn and Suites for hosting this event! If you missed this event, mark your calendars now for April 4 at Planet Fitness for Business B4 Breakfast and for our next Business After Hours at Lawton Marketing Group on April 20!
Young Professionals of Lawton Fort Sill (YPLFS) will serve as a developmental hub to connect young career bound leaders to the social, civic, and business resources within the community. Alike, it will serve as the voice of the arising career bound generation while continuing to promote the positive image of Lawton, the successes of Lawton, and the reasons to live and pursue careers in Lawton.
The Young Professionals Board is making progress and inching closer to the GRAND LAUNCH to the entire community April 27, 28, 29 at the Apache Casino Hotel Event Center – If you’re a Young Professional in Lawton, you don’t want to miss out on the launch weekend
Corporate Sponsorship information and ticket information will be released in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation hires community leader
The Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors announced that Brad Cooksey would assume the role as Executive Vice-President with the intent to assume the role of President no later than the end of the calendar year.
Prior to joining the LED, he worked in commercial real estate for Insight Commercial Real Estate Brokerage. During his tenure with Insight, Cooksey procured new tenants for a portfolio of commercial properties that would bolster the growth of the Lawton-Fort Sill Community. He also has a background in commercial insurance working for J.T. Neal Insurance Agency, Inc. and Wilcox & McGrath.
“Brad is a long-time Lawton resident who has spent his 19 year career in roles focused on strengthening his community,” said Phil Kennedy, Chairman of the Board. “We are pleased to have him lead the Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation.”
Cooksey began his professional career as a teacher and high school coach at Eisenhower High School. He has served the Lawton-Fort Sill area in his community involvement, as well. He has served as the President of the Lawton Public School Foundation, member of the Spirit of Survival Marathon Committee, Chamber of Commerce Board Member, AMBUCS, Board Member of Cameron University Foundation, and Leadership Lawton Fort Sill.
“I am proud to be from Lawton Fort Sill,” said Cooksey. “Lawton is my home, and I want to make it a choice location for new businesses to bring their operations here.”
Cooksey is the son of the late Mildred and Johnny Cooksey. He graduated from Eisenhower High School, then went on to graduate from Cameron University with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Science with a Minor in Mathematics. Cooksey attended Cameron University on a full scholarship for the Men’s Basketball team.
Cooksey and his wife, Karen, reside in Lawton where they are raising their boys, Carson and Colin. Cooksey continues to remain committed to the Lawton-Fort Sill Community and working to ensure it continues to thrive and prosper.
Business After Hours
Director of Corrections
Director of Corrections, Joe Allbaugh, addressed overpopulation, understaffing, aging facilities and budgeting issues related to prison facilities.
Education Action Group
Show Me the $$ - James Taylor with Workforce Oklahoma guides students in the preparation of resumes.
Bridges Out of Poverty
Leadership Lawton Fort Sill Class XXVI has chosen to support the Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ By World program that is presented by The Salvation Army. This program takes individuals in poverty through a journey that builds their resources for a more prosperous life for themselves, their families, and their communities. Getting Ahead in a Just Getting’ By World is a hand-up based program and not a handout, however, they provide those attending with weekly stipends, meals, childcare, class material and knowledge to empower and invest. All this takes place through a 20 week, 45-hour workshop experience. As we all know, poverty is an ongoing issue, Leadership Lawton Fort Sill Class XXVII has made it a priority to be part of the solution to ending poverty.
- Knocking Down Poverty One Pin at a Time:
Join the Leadership Lawton Fort Sill Class XXVII at our first fundraiser! Bowling for the cause, Five Person Best Ball Tournament!
March 18, 2017
2PM – 6PM
$30 – Per Person (5 people to a team)
1st Place Prize - $250
Register to win: 32” TV, Goodyear Oil Change, Goodyear Tire Rotation and a 35% off Tires Coupon
Other activities: 50/50 Drawing and Information Booth for LLFS Class XXVII with bracelet sales.
- Applebee’s Flapjack Fundraiser
Join the Leadership Lawton Fort Sill Class XXVII for breakfast before a busy Saturday!
April 22, 2017
8AM – 10AM
Co-Op Coordinating Council
On February 22, the Co-Op Coordinating Council met to begin planning the events for the coming year. With many events on their calendar, they look forward to a busy year of community service and new partnerships!
The Lawton Fort Sill Co-Op works to promote unity between Lawton businesses and Fort Sill Soldiers. Co-Op builds lasting relationship through partnership. Business leaders look forward to developing relationships with Fort Sill Soldiers, Marines and their families in the coming year. If you aren’t a Co-Op member yet, it is never too late to join. For more information contact Jamie Southerland today.
Supporting the Arts
On February 24, Arts for All held their Fund Drive Kick-Off Luncheon and Lawton Arts & Humanities Council Awards. It was a great opportunity for our community to support the art community here in Lawton Fort Sill.
The luncheon's guest speaker was Ervin Randle, owner of Classic Lawton Chevrolet. A gifted athlete and leader, he spoke about his life from Mumford, Texas to Lawton, Oklahoma shared why he believes it is important to give back to one's community.
Congratulations to all of the award winners at the event!
Business After Hours - Apache Casino Hotel
We would like to thank the Apache Casino Hotel for hosting the largest Business After Hours to date. 224 people attended Thursday Night's event.
Attendees were able to get a look at Lawton Fort Sill's newest event space, while mingling with friends new and old. The Apache Casino Hotel Orchestra provided a great ambiance while guests mingled.
If you missed out on this fantastic event, make plans to attend Breakfast B4 Business at Sleep Inn on March 7 as well as the next Business After Hours at Billingsley Ford on March 9.
Chamber Board members and committee chairs met to outline the 2017-2018 Business Plan.
Attendees evaluated progress on the current business plan, reviewed the long range plan, added new ideas and decided the best course of action to reach their goals. This plan advances to the Finance Committee to determine the necessary financial resources to achieve results.
2017 Member Verification Forms
Make sure your business is accurately represented! It is up to you to tell us about changes.
ATTENTION: Rather than sent by standard mail, this year Verification Forms were e-mailed on February 28, 2017. This will not change the action for you, the Chamber still expects them to be returned either by email, by FAX, or standard mail.
They are due April 28, 2017, which allows 2 months to complete and return. Whether you're an Individual Member, a Student Member, or a Business Member of our Chamber, please monitor your e-mail to receive the 2017 Verification Form. If you have changes to be made, or if no changes, we ask that ALL members return the form to assist the Chamber with keeping accurate records. We plan to print our annual Member Directory in July, so it is very important to make appropriate revisions/corrections on your account in the allotted time.
1) Check your email February 28, 2017. If you do not see the email subject “Chamber Verification Form” in your INBOX, we ask you check your JUNK or SPAM folders. Once you identify the email, review your Chamber profile on your form to ensure accuracy and correctness.
2) Mark through and make any necessary changes on the form. If no changes, state "no changes."
3) SIGN & Return to the Chamber either by standard mail, e-mail, FAX, or in person.
"Research shows that 68 cents out of every dollar spent in local businesses stay here in our community. The sales tax on these purchases made locally fuel economic development, fund road improvements, parks, schools as well as provide jails and detention centers, just to name a few."
Meet with the Director of Corrections
Visitors in Lawton
Did you notice an influx of people in our community this past weekend? Well, there are two big reasons why. One is The Wichita Mountain Quilt Guild held their bi-annual quilt show this past weekend. This event was held at the Great Plains Coliseum. This event promoted the art and history of quilting in our local community and state. The second reason is The Lawton Fort Sill Duplicate Bridge Club had their annual tournament at Apache Casino Hotel Event Center. Overall there were around 1,000 people who got to visit our great community!
Legislative Luncheon Opportunity
Success By 6 Receives State Grant
United Way of Southwest Oklahoma (UWSWOK)'s in-house education program, Success By 6, received notification that the program had been chosen as one of five grant recipients from Smart Start Oklahoma for the remainder of this fiscal year.
For over a decade, Success By 6 has been working with community partners in Southwest Oklahoma to ensure that all children have access to books through several programs. "This grant is unique in that so few applicants were selected for funding," stated President and CEO of United Way of Southwest Oklahoma, Lauren Ellis. "Being awarded this grant validates the good work that Success By 6 and our community partners have been doing for over a decade. We are excited to see our state continue to see the importance of early childhood education."
The over $30,000 in funding from Smart Start Oklahoma will allow Success By 6 to research the deeper issues affecting early childhood education and make a plan for workable solutions. Success By 6 will report on the findings of the research at an Oklahoma Partnership School Readiness board meeting in May of 2017.
To find out more about Success By 6 or United Way of Southwest Oklahoma please visit their facebook page or website at www.uwswok.org.
2017 SW OK LEGISLATIVE RECEPTION
The Chamber, along with 6 other Southwest Oklahoma Chambers, hosted the 22nd Annual Southwest Oklahoma Legislative Reception on Tuesday February 7, 2017 at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.
Attendees had the opportunity to mingle with their current delegation and meet new area legislators. The Reception is an event where chamber members, legislators and state officials gather for an evening of hors d'oeuveres, socialization and discussion.
Every state senator and state representative was invited to attend. Many state agency leaders have been invited as well. The Chamber co-hosts this event with Chambers from: Altus, Chickasha, Duncan, Elgin, Frederick, and Walters.
Breakfast B4 Business
Tuesday, February 7, we had our first Business B4 Breakfast. We saw a wonderful launch to this new program!
Attendees got to mingle and taste some fantastic coffee at CherryBerry before they headed off to work!
We would like to thank CherryBerry for hosting this event! If you missed this event, mark your calendars now for February 16 at Apache Casino Hotel’s new event center for Business After Hours and for our next Business B4 Breakfast at Sleep Inn on March 7!
SMA Preston Luncheon
The Fires Chapter of AUSA, the Military Affairs Committee and the Co-Op Committee hosted a luncheon in honor of Sergeant Major of the Army (Retired) Kenneth O. Preston. Attendees learned about the future of the Army and celebrated our community’s cohesion and patriotism.
SMA Preston was the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army, and now serves as the Director of NCO & Soldier programs for AUSA National in Washington, D.C.
National Job Shadow Day
Three students from Gateway Success Center shadowed staff members at the Chamber on National Job Shadow Day.
"Today I got a look at the business community," said Olivia, one of the students, "and I think it is something I want to pursue after high school."
The Chamber’s Education Action Group encouraged members to use this day to better connect Lawton students with our business community.
"It was interesting to see how everyone works together," said another student, Breonna. "Everyone here is equal parts of a whole system."
While at the Chamber the Convention and Visitors Bureau took time to show them a little bit about the community they live in.
"I had no idea there was so much to do in Lawton," said Chyna, another one of the student shadows. "Today showed us what all there is to do in the community."