LAWTON Okla_ There will soon be hundreds of new jobs coming to the City of Lawton.
The Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation announced Thursday the arrival of 500 new jobs to be filled by mid-November. Serco, Incorporated will soon begin leasing a 55,000 square foot facility along Gore Boulevard, which was formerly home to the Assurant Solutions Call Center.
LEDC's President and CEO Barry Albrecht said the jobs Serco will be hiring for will run the gamut, from data processing personnel, to skilled insurance professionals. Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch said these nearly 500 jobs will have an economic impact upwards of $40M annually.
The parking lot of 6501 Gore Boulevard paints the picture perfectly: empty, deserted, and ready for business. Ever since Assurant Solutions Call Center closed down operations in Lawton more than a year ago, laying off more than 200 employees, the large space has been vacant. It won't be vacant much longer.
This is the LEDC's first big success, and Albrecht said his message has always been about how the Lawton area is a great place for businesses to call home.
"Lawton/Fort Sill region has a workforce and work ethic that is virtually unknown in the global marketplace, and we're changing that," Albrecht said. "We're taking elements from our community and introducing them to industries that would take advantage of one, our work force, our strategic location, our state incentive programs, and our local programs. Our primary goal is jobs."
Now, the city has a lot of them. When Assurant packed their bags, Albrecht said it hit many very hard, but he believes Serco will bring even better jobs to the city.
"The loss of Assurant did make an economic impact, but these 500 jobs will actually pay a little bit better than what Assurant used to pay," Albrecht said. "It diversifies our economy."
With these jobs, officials hope other businesses, such as retail, will see a positive impact as well.
"If we do economic development right as a community, if we bring in the primary jobs, retail will come," Albrecht said.
That's exactly what Joe Abshere of Wayne's Drive Inn hopes will happen to his business once again.
"When Assurant was there, we had a good relationship with them," Abshere said. "They would come and order, maybe once a month, 60-100 hamburgers. So, it's just about building those relationships with the new people that are coming into town."
Serco, Incorporated will work primarily with the federal government to process applications for Medicare and Medicaid services attached to the newly-implemented Affordable Care Act.
There will be a four-day job fair for the new positions October 21-24. In order to be considered, you must first fill out an application online.
The Lawton/Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation issued a release Thursday, after Serco finalized its lease agreement on the former Assurant Solutions space. Below is an excerpt from that release.
Serco Inc. is a leading provider of professional, technology, and management services primarily to the federal government. Headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Serco has approximately 9,000 employees, annual revenue of $1.2 billion, and is ranked in the Top 35 of the largest Federal Prime Contractors by Washington Technology.
"We at Serco are grateful for the warm welcome from the Lawton-Fort Sill community and aim to become a true civic partner," said Alan Hill, Senior Vice President of Serco. "We selected Lawton for its readiness to support this program and strong workforce, and look forward to joining the community."
"This has been a great economic development project, not just for Lawton, but for the entire southwest region of Oklahoma," said Barry Albrecht, President/CEO of the Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation. "It is working with our community partners, like Jason Wells of Insight Commercial Real Estate Brokerage, which make opportunities like this happen."
"The Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation has engaged in new strategies to bring new jobs to Lawton," said Phil Kennedy, Chairman of the Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors. "These 500 jobs are important to our community and we are going to continue to take actions to bring quality jobs to the region."
In July 2013, Serco Inc. was awarded a new contract by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to support the newly created health benefit exchanges. Serco will operate four centers for the in-taking, routing, processing, reviewing, and troubleshooting of applications submitted for enrollment into a qualified health plan. Serco will comply with all applicable privacy statutes and regulations, including the privacy and security standards established by the Federally Facilitated Marketplace pertaining to the collection, use, disclosure, retention, and destruction of personally identifying information. Besides the center in Oklahoma, the other centers are located in Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri.
"This recent economic development victory demonstrates our community's collective vision to diversify business opportunities within our community through smart growth initiatives," said Mayor Fred Fitch, City of Lawton. "Today's announcement reasserts the fact that the Southwest Oklahoma region is a significant economic development engine for the State of Oklahoma. It is new jobs like these that will help diversify and grow our local economy."
The Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation is working with Serco officials in conducting a hiring event October 21-24, 2013 at the Lawton City Hall, 212 SW 9th Street downstairs Banquet Hall. Serco has posted these new jobs online and individuals wishing to apply directly can go online to http://jobs.serco-na.com/lawton-jobs.
The Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corporation is a 501 (c) 6 not-for-profit corporation supported and led by the community's business leaders, city government, and top academic institutions. The Lawton-Fort Sill EDC collaborates closely with other entities throughout the southwest OK/Lawton region and the state to ensure a globally competitive and sustainable regional economy through quality job creation.