Path Home Shows 2010 Show Archive April 2010 Show 1016 Lawton Boomtown

Lawton Boomtown

We go to Lawton to see why this Oklahoma town is booming in the midst of a national slowdown.
Lawton Boomtown


Show Dates

Show 1016: Lawton Boomtown

Air date: April 18, 2010



Rob:  Well, one Oklahoma town’s housing boom looks to be only beginning.  In 2005, the Federal Base Realignment and Closure Committee, called BRAC, transferred the US Army’s Air Defense School from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Fort Sill, Oklahoma; relocating thousands of soldiers and their families.  Joining me now is our Courtenay DeHoff.

Courtenay DeHoff:  Well Rob, estimates are, by the end of next year, ten thousand people will be calling Lawton home; and, with that growth in population, comes an unprecedented amount of construction.

Courtenay:  The US Army Air Defense Artillery School is on the move; bringing with it thirty-six hundred military and civilian jobs, to Lawton, Oklahoma.

Joseph Adams:  What we have is the site development plan for the Thirty-first Air Defense Artillery Brigade facilities; there’ll be three separate facilities, each of them will handle somewhere between three hundred and seven hundred and fifty troops.

Courtenay:  Joseph Adams, President of MWH Constructors says the Brigade Project in Lawton, will have an enormous impact on civilians and soldiers.

Joseph:  It’s a very significant undertaking, three, you know, overall at a hundred and thirty million dollars, there’ll be literally hundreds of jobs that will be done at the site with all kinds of different contractors; so, not only is it just the number of jobs, it goes off the whole spectrum of workers.  As well as, all the materials that have to be manufactured and brought into this facility which can create local jobs outside the base, not just what you see here; so, really what makes it for me is the first time that the troops come through this facility and they go in and they see brand new facilities that they’re going to be able to work in.

Courtenay:  Adams stresses the importance of keeping workers safe, as they begin the massive undertaking.  Janice Barnes with Great Plains Technology Center says safety is first priority on the jobsite.

Janice Barnes:  What we have is the availability for staffing to address the needs of these clients that are out there.  As Joe was telling you, there’s a lot of contractors out here; they’re doing a lot of work, they’re doing a lot of different jobs in high demand areas, they also come from all different industries, all different businesses.  So, what we’re looking for is to be able to provide them with a cohesive safety training.

Courtenay:  Barnes says Great Plains Technology Center prides itself on being able to provide customized training for such a large project.  A project so big, Senior Project Manager, Jesus Juarez, says they are employing three hundred people to work on this project alone.

Jesus Juarez:  My project is like I said, is gonna use about three hundred people and the other general contractors are going to hire about that many, if not more; so, there’s jobs out there, you’ve just got to go to the right places to find them.  There’s a lot of opportunity, there’s a lot of opportunity for local people, a lot of opportunity for youth that want to go into the construction industry.  There’s a lot of good work that’s being done to support our troops; to make sure they have the facilities that they need to continue doing, you know, the work that they’re doing.

Courtenay:  As for now, Lawton will enjoy the miles of construction; miles that are providing a welcome distance from any recession.

Rob:  So Courtenay, I bet all this construction is contributing to some significant economic growth in Lawton.

Courtenay DeHoff:  Absolutely Rob!  Let’s take a look at some numbers from Lawton’s Chamber of Commerce, wages for the area increased by eight point seven percent in 2008, and this year the increase in pay could hit ten percent; but, higher pay has lead to higher prices.  Housing prices jumped by four point eight percent in 2008 and are expected to increase another seven percent this year; and, with more people coming to Lawton, also more visitors, about eighty thousand last year, which has lead to six new hotels with two more under construction.

Rob:  So I bet with all this activity, there are some growing pains?

Courtenay:  Well, right Rob, rent prices are up and availability is down; it’s estimated that seventeen hundred new homes will be built in the next ten years.

Rob:  Alright, interesting place, thank you, good story.