Arts for All Luncheon Slated for Feb. 23
The Arts for All Fund Drive Kick Off Luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 23 at the Lawton Country Club, 4601 W. Gore. The luncheon will begin Arts for All's annual spring fund drive, which raises funds for its member groups. Cost is $20 per person for chamber members and $25 for non-chamber members. Click here to register.
Chamber Closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce will be closed Jan. 15 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The chamber will reopen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 16.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr.
Annual “On Target with Kiwanis” Archery Shoot Jan. 6
The Lawton Kiwanis International will host its annual “On Target with Kiwanis” archery shoot Jan. 6 at the Great Plains Coliseum.
The competition is for 3rd-12th grade students to qualify for state competition in February in Oklahoma City. It is anticipated that over 400 participants from cities as far away as Pauls Valley, Ardmore, Madill and Marietta will compete. Many teams will travel over an hour to compete in an over six tournaments. Typically, over 60 medals, trophies or rings are awarded. This is the fifth year for the Lawton Kiwanis International to host the tournament. The civic organization believes archery gives all children, even those with special needs, a sport to call their own.
The Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau is a major contributor to the Lawton Kiwanis International “On Target with Kiwanis” archery shoot.
Breakfast B4 Business at Imperial Coffee
January's Breakfast B4 Business will be hosted by Imperial Coffee. At 8 a.m. Jan. 9, join local business associates for breakfast while learning about the vending machine and office coffee service. Imperial Coffee is located at 1623 SE 1st St. To learn more about the company, visit its website.
Seven Seasons of Celebration
December 2017 Chamber Column by President and CEO Debra Welch
Tis the season of gift giving -- let me encourage you to consider the best gifts you have ever given anyone, and celebrate how you have blessed the recipients. Reflecting upon the several years, I have been blessed with the gift of this column, and this year I want to celebrate seven seasons of gift giving instead of just one.
The ever-changing chamber leadership has accomplished much to celebrate in our community. With a steady focus on the mission of the chamber, these volunteers have guided activities to create economic opportunities and an enhanced quality of life for our citizens through leadership, relevancy and innovation. To that end, the following list shows seven of the significant gifts the chamber has provided our community over the past seven years:
- Lawton Economic Development Corporation formed to recruit jobs
- Increased promotional opportunities and referrals for local businesses
- New chamber location established to provide professional center of operations
- Convention and Visitors Bureau created to encourage, promote and foster conventions and tourism
- Passing legislation and the Hotel-Motel Tax, supporting passage of Capital Improvement programs, Student Investment programs and advocating for Fort Sill
- Community image campaign initiated to instill pride in our community – Lawton Proud
- Young Professionals Group launched to develop new community leaders
…and a Happy New Year!
CVB Brings in Pig, Lamb and Goat Show
The 2018 Great Plains Winter National Pig, Lamb and Goat Show will take place Jan. 5-6 at the Comanche County Fairgrounds. The show is sponsored by the Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Holiday Open House Wrap Up
We had a festive time celebrating and thanking our members during our Holiday Open House on Dec. 15!
Click here to view photos.
Give the Gift of Membership This Holiday Season
The holiday season is upon us, and you may be wondering what you can do for a small, local business. Why not give them a one year chamber membership? The gift of membership is a great way to help and mentor new businesses. Within our Chamber, there are so many positive benefits that a member experiences. The chamber is considered the “resource center” for the Lawton-Fort Sill community. We are a network of business members that create opportunities, share ideas, help drive new business, build relations with our military partners, and most importantly – we work together to build economic empowerment across our community.
Want to give a small, local business the gift of membership? Call 580-355-3541 for more information.
Mary Spannagel Testimony
For Mary Spannagel, her chamber journey began when she started working for the Oklahoma Blood Institute.
"I've been a member for a long time," she said.
OBI is also a member of the Lawton Fort Sill Co-Op, which she said has been instrumental in building relationships between Fort Sill and OBI.
"I believe it is important to be engaged and involved with our community," she said. "The chamber offers many avenues to do this, like Breakfast B4 Business and Business After Hours."
Spannagel is also a Redcoat and enjoys "the opportunity to meet and get to know those new businesses in town."
"Our chamber is the go-to place to get information on what’s going on in our community," she said. "They offer a variety of committees you are encouraged to be a part of. I have met the neatest people who have become lifelong friends."
Host Business After Hours
Business After Hours is one of the chamber’s most popular programs, usually bringing from 50 to 100 people right in your front door. Word of mouth is still the best advertising, and this event provides an opportunity for you to showcase your goods and services to those that will spread the good word.
Business After Hours is always held on the third Thursday of each month from 5:30-7 p.m. The events are typically booked a year in advance.
The Chamber will
- Promote the event by two exclusive email broadcasts to the Chamber membership
- List the event on the website’s Chamber Calendar
- List the event in the ‘Save the Date’ Section of the Monday Minute
- Take photographs during the event
- Have a photo follow-up in the Monday Minute
- Provide greeters - the Chamber’s Redcoat Ambassadors
- Provide the assistance of staff and volunteers at the event
- Provide sound system, unless you have one that meets Chamber standard
- Collect business cards of attendees, scan and email them to you for follow-up
The cost to host Business After Hours is $250.00.
For more information on how to host Business After Hours, contact Sharleen Gehers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas in Lawton
Spend Christmas in Lawton and enjoy a myriad of activities the whole family will find merry and bright! Below is a list of holiday events.
Holiday in the Park -- Click here for more information.
MacArthur High School Drama Club Kabuki Christmas, Dec. 19 -- Click here for more information.
Trail of Cheer -- Click here for more information.
Economic Development – An Important Impact to Consider
CenterPoint Energy and AEP/PSO will host a forum with Commissioner Dana Murphy to discuss the role of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and the impact the role has on economic development. The forum will be from 1-2 p.m. Dec. 18 at the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, 302 W. Gore, in the First National Bank and Trust Board Room. The forum is open to the public. Seating is limited and advance registration is requested. Those interested in attending may register by calling the chamber at 580-355-3541.
Murphy formerly served as the Oklahoma Corporation Commission chairwoman from January 2011 to July 2012. She has also served as the administrative law judge at the commission. Murphy is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), where she serves on the Electricity Committee. She is the Oklahoma member and vice president of the Regional State Committee of Southwest Power Pool. She also serves on the Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute Advisory Board; is the OCC representative on the Board of Trustees of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System; serves as vice chair of the advisory board of the Financial Research Institute; and is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Oklahoma City Geological Society and Oklahoma Women’s Coalition. She was a member of the board of directors of Farmers Royalty Company and a member of the Edmond Chamber of Commerce. Murphy earned a Law degree cum laude from Oklahoma City University.
James Taylor Testimony
By CAPT James Taylor, US Navy (Ret.) – Program Manager, American Job Center (Lawton Workforce)
I became a member of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce in 2015 in order to better network and collaborate with business leaders and individuals in the Lawton Fort Sill area. Through my more than 20 years in the military, I had the great opportunity to utilize those memberships with local and regional chambers. These memberships allowed me to establish and foster my connections in order to broaden my reach and strengthen valuable partnerships in speaker forums, business after hours, subject matter experts in finance and industry, business synchronization, education and academia, STEM, foreign collaborations in space and aviation technology, entrepreneurial and economic development and so much more.
The chamber has locally benefitted me and the Lawton Workforce by allowing us to further our message as to who we are and what we do for and with the Lawton Fort Sill market. Lawton Workforce is the Employment, Reemployment, Adult and Youth Services office, not just the Unemployment Office as it is often misunderstood. Our number one customer is the employer. At Lawton Workforce, provide active job postings, job fairs and hiring events, on-site training and registration functions. Lawton Workforce also provides guidance and employer support when meeting state employment guidelines and responses to queries, and connecting employers with state and federal agencies that further their workforce compliance with WOTC, Federal Bonding and Labor Law. Through this process, Lawton Workforce continues to grow and expand its support to job seekers by providing commercial and federal resume development, interview training and dress for success workshops in our office or on Fort Sill.
I will continue to be a chamber member because I believe that our chamber matters for all the right reasons. The return on my investment through my membership is only as good as my participation in programs, events and connections that I make, which allow me to collaborate with others in the outstanding community that is my home, place of work and the businesses that make me Lawton Proud.
What I would say to encourage someone or another business to join and remain a member of the chamber: "This is your Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce – it is imperative that you invest your membership, time and talent in order to garner the return on your investment. If it is not working for you, ask, inquire, press for more information and even ask for help from the chamber staff. Make your investment for you and your business."
Save the Date for Our Annual DC Fly-in
For more information, call 580-355-3541.
Holiday Shop Local Gift Guide
The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce is putting together a Holiday Shop Local Gift Guide for this giving season. The guide will be distributed throughout our social media channels allowing our followers to see which local chamber members offer holiday gift shopping. We're wanting to keep Christmas in Lawton this year, so help us by letting us know if your business offers holiday shopping.
Send your information to Monica McCleary at email@example.com.
Chamber Holiday Hours
The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce will be closed from noon to 1:30 p.m. Dec. 20 for a staff Christmas lunch and Dec. 22 and 25 in observance of Christmas. It will reopen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 26. Merry Christmas!
Wichita Mountains Classic Branded a Success
The Wichita Mountains Classic presented by Sullivan Supply saw 460 head of cattle Dec. 1-3 at the Comanche County Coliseum. Lawton received an influx of business and hotel nights with students and their families spending the weekend in town as the classic saw contestants from all over Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and California.
The Lawton Fort Sill Convention and Visitors Bureau is proud of the immense success of its Ag Committee and volunteers.
Click here for more photos.
Redcoats Celebrate the Holiday Season
A festive time was had by all during the 2017 Redcoat Ambassadors Christmas Party Dec. 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn. The Ambassadors played Dirty Santa with lots of fun antics. Creative Holiday Centerpieces were donated by team captains and given away as door prizes. Prizes were also given for the Worst Plaid Shirt and Ugly Christmas Sweater. Winners of the contests were Bill Anders for the his colorful, plaid shirt and the twins, Dave Stewart, Lifetime Redcoat Ambassador, and James Taylor, Ambassador Chairman, shared the title for best Ugly Christmas Sweater. Big shout out to Karolyn Anders and the Christmas Party Committee for a job well done.
Click here for more photos.
Veterans United Celebrates Week of Giving
Lawton's Veterans United Home Loans of Lawton celebrated its Week of Giving Nov. 27-Dec. 1 by giving $10,000 to five local nonprofits, totaling $50,000 from the Veterans United Foundation. Jeannette Klein, branch manager, asked the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce to take part in the week by inviting employees to each giving presentation. The local nonprofits that received $10,000 included the Salvation Army, Lawton Food Bank, Armed Services YMCA, Marie Detty Youth and Family Services New Directions Women's Shelter and Operation Homefront.
Lawton Food Bank
Armed Services YMCA
Albert Rivas Testimony
Albert Rivas joined the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce in February of this year because he understood the importance of supporting his local chamber -- enhancing local ties and supporting small businesses.
"However, this cannot happen without getting involved with your chamber and investing time within the organization to make a difference," Rivas said.
He also joined with the opportunity of networking in mind, which has benefitted him as an individual member.
"I am thankful for the many great friendships that have been created in such a short amount of time," he said. "... Whether it be the New Membership Committee, Lawton Proud or one of the affiliated groups, such as Young Professionals or Leadership Lawton Fort Sill."
As 2017 comes to a close, Rivas has no doubt that he will renew his membership come February 2018.
"When you support your chamber, you have a voice in what direction the overall chamber goes," Rivas said. "You have the capability to be part of positive change and the opportunities are endless to meet likeminded people that have the same passion to enhance the quality of life around us. Aside from the tangible benefits, I will continue my membership because of what we can do as a whole for the heart of Lawton-Fort Sill."
He encourages other individuals and businesses to become members of the chamber because he believes "every community member and business deserves recognition and the opportunity to grow."
"Our main priority as volunteers of the chamber, or as employees of the chamber, is to make sure each member benefits from it," he said. "Those same groups of people are working even harder to create new reasons why being a chamber member is beneficial to you and the people around you. At the end of the day, when you join the chamber it says, 'I support Lawton-Fort Sill.'"
Raising A Family
By Chamber President Debra Welch
Free burgers, bounce houses and an outdoor park supplied an afternoon of fun for my 3-year-old granddaughter on Saturday as we enjoyed the annual Co-Op Buffalo Burger Cookout at Fort Sill with approximately 3,000 other members of area families. The night before, we enjoyed colorful shaved ice treats, music, lights, entertainment and an outdoor park at the annual International Festival with thousands of visitors and local residents. Of course, these events came after our regular sidewalk trip via tricycle to my neighborhood park in Lawton.
It is my great fortune that one of Lawton’s signature events, the Spirit of Survival, has a twelve-week training program that brings family members to town each week to run around the streets of Lawton, while I run behind the fastest 3 year old in history through multiple outdoor parks in the area. Outdoor play areas are her favorites. Lawton is privileged to have so many wonderful parks in our community and fortunate that the city continues to invest in these important venues.
Lawton is also blessed to have great organizations who produce a variety of outstanding events that add to our quality of life. My granddaughter wore her first pair of cowboy boots to the Lawton Rangers PRCA Rodeo this year and protested loudly when she had to leave the sandy beaches at LETRA after several sun-filled hours at Military Appreciation Day. Lawton is a great place for family fun.
In addition to the multitude of free recreational opportunities and special events that we enjoy, education entities are setting new standards in Lawton. We have a university that is recognized for providing higher education at a cost that keeps many students away from student debt. Our public schools have received honors in STEM education, while our technology center is a shining star for local workforce training as well as innovative in entrepreneurial support. Lawton has dozens of organizations dedicated to raising the quality of life for all of our citizens from Success by Six to the Senior Center for Creative Living.
Still, we can do better. We can find the good and share it. When we find a challenge, we can work with others to improve it. We can support our local retailers, attend local events, vote in every election, invest in our schools, volunteer and share our ideas and talents.
While I am not raising a family in Lawton, I am enjoying my family in Lawton, and I meet many people who are proud to have multiple generations of their family members living here. I was attracted to Lawton by a career opportunity, which allows me to work with community leaders to create and promote economic opportunities for others. We welcome your participation.
View From the Blimp
By Chamber President Debra Welch
While floating between 1,000-1,500 feet above Lawton, my view from the Goodyear Blimp Wingfoot Two provided me a new perspective of the city. From a bird’s eye view, I located various local landmarks and my first home in Lawton. This unique, top-down perspective also gave me the opportunity to meet more people in the community and listen to their thoughts about the growth of our community.
Many of my shipmates have lived in Lawton much longer than I have, and they shared historical perspectives of the sights below, identified who owned what and how certain things came to be where they are today. Not surprisingly, each of our viewpoints were first personalized to our own history and experiences, and as we listened to each other, our perspectives became broader in scope. All the conversations caused me to consider how this community developed and why some develop more rapidly while others become stagnate or cease to exist.
A quick comparison of other cities in Oklahoma that have seen great growth and prosperity show common traits. Look at Oklahoma City, Broken Arrow, Yukon, Owasso, Edmond and Norman. The citizens of these cities have voted to invest their personal dollars in projects that will prepare them for growth and prosperity. Just as the projects vary and may include incubators, beautification, sports facilities, sidewalks and convention centers, the project acronyms vary from MAPS to CIP or SIP. And the effect is the same. These investments have successfully been able to attract new industry, new businesses and new citizens to their communities based upon their collective investments.
One consistent factor for these successful cities is that they all substantially invest in their school systems. They all invest more in their schools through millage rates than Lawton. Lawton citizens have voted to move our city forward through many of the same projects listed above, and we have an opportunity to align with other successful cities in Oklahoma by voting to invest in our schools. The Board of Directors for the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce voted unanimously to support the Lawton Public Schools Student Investment Program, which will be put to a vote of our citizens on Nov. 14.
Take a larger, blimp-type view of the significant impact you can make for your community by voting to invest in education in Lawton. Prosperity is a shared vision.
Let Us Thank You
For more information, call 580-355-3541.
Members Benefitting Members
Are you trying to drive traffic to your business? Offer an exclusive benefit to chamber members with our Member to Member Benefits. As a member of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, not only do you receive many benefits to help grow and develop your business in our community, but there are also perks from other members once you join.
Click here to see our current Member to Member Benefits. If you're interested in offering a Member to Member Benefit, contact Monica McCleary, membership director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BB4B At USO
USO Fort Sill will host the December Breakfast B4 Business at 8 a.m. Dec. 5 at its Fort Sill location, 3265 Crane Avenue. Along with Breakfast B4 Business, there will also be a ribbon cutting for USO.
USO Fort Sill offers weekly programs, light recreation, free wifi and free snacks, among other things, to all DOD ID holders. For more information, visit its website by clicking here.
Those planning to attend will need to attain a visitors pass at the Fort Sill Visitors Center. Click here to access the form and fill out beforehand.
Wichita Mountains Classic Comes Back Dec. 1-3
Lawton will see booked hotel rooms, packed restaurants and shopping galore as a stampede of students and their cattle will make way Dec. 1-3 for the Wichita Mountains Classic at the Comanche County Fairgrounds. Is your business ready? For more information on the Wichita Mountains Classic, click here.
This year's Wichita Mountains Classic show sponsor is Sullivan Supply.
23rd Annual Legislative Reception
For more information, contact the Chamber at 580-355-3541.
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.