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Lawton praised for economic development, wants to go further

LAWTON, Okla._As southwest Oklahoma goes, so does the state. That's what state economists told hundreds of Lawton business owners and city officials at a luncheon.

Those comments came during the city's first-ever economic development luncheon. The goal of the new annual event is to involve more of the public in future plans to keep Lawton flourishing with new business.

Oklahoma State Secretary of Commerce, Larry Parman, said all of the development on Second Street and on 82nd Street hasn't gone unnoticed in person or on paper. He and city officials said that Lawton has come far, business-wise, but there are still lofty goals to be met and everyone agrees that success lies within the city's residents.

"What a great place to build a business because at the margins, that's where you profit," said Parman.

Small business owners and people with a strong work ethic; these are who outsiders looking in say makes up the key to Lawton's economic future. The city's number one success? Jobs. According to economists, Lawton and Fort Sill have created hundreds of new jobs in the past two years alone.

"We're just beginning to do what we need to do as a community. We're starting to see results but the big results you'll witness will be 4-5 years from now," said Barry Albrecht, President of the Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Corp.

The City of Lawton wants to make some drastic changes to the way our neck of the woods is perceived on a global level.

"We're building new tools in the multimedia sector in the social networking that goes out internationally. We're building them today to get into that sector, to get national and international recognition in those industries," said Albrecht. "While we see defense cuts impacting us, we know that we have to diversify our economy into new sectors so that we become less dependent on Fort Sill and the defense industry."

The state is also confident that the new plan for Lawton will continue to contribute to the overall appeal of Oklahoma.

"Lawton really sets a good example for the entire region of southwest Oklahoma. So it's important that Lawton does well, and we want to do everything we can from the state's point of view to help them do that," said Parman.

City officials didn't want to close out the afternoon event without praising a few local businesses for their contributions. Serco was given the Community Appreciation Award for creating over five hundred jobs in Lawton last year alone. The first ever Community Cornerstone Award went to Goodyear for their role in helping shape the city's economy for decades.

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