Okla. Lawmakers Trying to Prevent Fort Sill Closures - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Okla. Lawmakers Trying to Prevent Fort Sill Closures

LAWTON Okla_ Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe said he is looking to protect America's military bases from another round of government-forced closures.

A new defense bill that passed the house last week is heading to the senate Wednesday. Senator Inhofe said that bill would put off closures for at least another year. Inhofe said it's important for Lawton's economy that the threat of any negative impact on Fort Sill is taken off the table.

The area was once threatened by closures back in 2005, and the threat of a closure can hinder the economy and job growth. President of Lawton/Fort Sill Economic Development Barry Albrecht said the post is crucial when it comes to bringing in new businesses.

"Just recently, we had an announcement where a company was actually looking at a community that had a strong military presence, university, and a successful work place," Albrecht said. "Fort Sill and Lawton work together perfectly for that company."

The passing of the bill would give the community confidence in developing a better business plan. In a phone interview with Senator Jim Inhofe, he said he feels confident that Fort Sill would be safe from closures even if the bill is defeated.

"Maybe they would say that Fort Sill would be one of them," Inhofe said. "I don't believe that. Now, we have always done well in Fort Sill on these BRAC rounds, because we operate it so well."

Albrecht agrees it would be tough for Fort Sill to be targeted for closure.

"Lawton has a very good reputation to pulling together as a team with the State of Oklahoma in addressing BRAC issues," Albrecht said. "The last BRAC round, Lawton/Fort Sill made a huge win compared to cities around the country."

Albrecht understands that a full closure may be out of the question, but the threat of a military reduction means they must continue to be creative to keep work coming into the area.

"We can't lean back," Albrecht said. "We have to consistently address new missions for Fort Sill, and if there is movement, we want to be on the forefront of trying to bring those new missions to here in Oklahoma."

The impact of a potential closure or cutback at Fort Sill would not just affect the local area. Albrecht said it would mean a loss of more than $1.7 billion to the state's economy.




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