Eyes on Economic Development: Lawton Foundation Gains New President, Name

By Page, David | THE JOURNAL RECORD, January 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Eyes on Economic Development: Lawton Foundation Gains New President, Name


Page, David, THE JOURNAL RECORD


A couple of years ago, a few members and officials with the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce starting discussing a shift in emphasis for the Lawton Industrial Foundation.

"A group of us got together two years ago and we decided we needed to do something different with economic development," said Phil Kennedy, chairman of the foundation. "What we were doing was OK, but we wanted to do better."

In addition to serving as chairman of the foundation, Kennedy is a past chairman of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, a past chairman of The State Chamber and owner and manager of Comanche Home Center in Lawton.

The result of the discussions started two years ago is a newly restructured Lawton Industrial Foundation, the economic development arm of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber. Restructuring changes include the hiring of an 18-year economic development professional from Arizona as president, an expanded geographic perspective and, as of Friday, a new name - the Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Foundation.

"Lawton has been doing economic development for years," said Barry Albrecht, the foundation's new president. "But the city leadership and community leaders have decided to be more offensive in creating the types of jobs that fit the needs of the community."

The renamed foundation is still wholly owned by the chamber but has its own mission and board of directors.

"We can say our only mission is economic development," Kennedy said. "The chamber has a lot of other roles."

The restructuring process for the foundation included a trip by local and chamber officials to Huntsville, Ala., to check out industrial development efforts there, said Lawton Mayor Fred Fitch.

Like Lawton, Huntsville has a strong military presence - the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command is at Redstone Arsenal.

"We went to Huntsville and saw what they had," Fitch said.

Part of what the restructuring does is get major decision makers - local officials, business leaders and economic development professionals - at the same table, the mayor said.

With more decision makers involved, the Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Foundation will be able to work closely with other counties, municipalities and other groups, including the Comanche County Industrial Development Authority, Fitch said.

Albrecht was selected for president of the Lawton-Fort Sill Economic Development Foundation after a nationwide search. His experience with the defense industry and traditional economic development was an important factor in his selection, Kennedy said.

A native of Weatherford, Texas, who was raised in an Army aviation family, Albrecht was CEO of the Central Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation, a multi-city and -county sponsored group with more than 100 members, when he was hired for the job in Lawton. …

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