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NLOS Cannon coming to Elgin

Elgin_After years of anticipation, and some disappointment, finally, the news that Elgin, Ft. Sill and Comanche County have been hoping for -- the "Non-Line of Sight Cannon" is coming to town.

That means the NLOS-cannon, it's the one that replaced the Crusader, will be built there. When the Crusader was on line for production, Elgin was to be its home.  But when Congress scrapped the Crusader, it also scrapped Elgin. But now, Elgin is back in the planning phase, preparing to build a facility to house the cannon.

BAE Systems, the U.S. Army and Boeing chose Elgin as the site to build hundreds of the NLOS Cannons for many reasons, but especially because it is so close to Fort Sill, home of Field Artillery.  The NLOS Cannon is a self-propelled Howitzer, and very high-tech.

With this decision, the area will have an increase of 200 jobs with the potential for even more as other defense contractors follow suit as expected. "We're going to have an enlarged labor force," said former Ft. Sill Commander and Retired Major General Toney Stricklin. "That means an economic boom for our area and I think it's going to be a long lasting one."

Elgin will built the new facility in the area designated for the industrial park by early 2009 -- but with this construction comes improvements to the city's infrastructure as well. "We need to get that facility up and running pretty quickly," said Lawton Chamber of Commerce President Dana Davis. "And it's a 120+ square foot building, and you can't just build those overnight."

Elgin mayor Larry Thoma says the economic impact is going to be huge. He says first and foremost will be the jobs the construction of the cannon will bring. "Comanche County has put a lot of investment into this 140 acres," Thoma said.  "The Comanche County Industrial Authority has been very supportive of this tract of land, it helped us purchase the land and did the engineering, so the voters of Comanche County will be seeing that money make a turnaround back into the pockets of Comanche County voters."

Elgin received about $2.2 million in federal funds in 2004 for the development of an industrial park on the southwest side of the city.

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