- Expected expansion of FISTA Innovation Park, Downtown Lawton
Expected expansion of FISTA Innovation Park, Downtown Lawton
LAWTON – The Lawton community will take another step forward in high tech job creation and further business development as the FISTA (Fires Innovation Science & Technology Accelerator) Trust Authority and Lawton City Council will consider major agreements and initiatives for essential investment to grow an Innovation Park in Downtown Lawton.
In a collaborative effort, the entities are expected to approve resolutions and agreements to obtain Lawton Central Mall for expansion purposes of the highly anticipated FISTA Innovation Park. In September, it was announced that the former Sears store at the west end of the mall would house the first phase of the FISTA – a defense-related industrial space for research and development, from which the creation of primary, secondary and tertiary jobs are expected. Additional interest was heightened after this announcement and expansion beyond Phase I was immediately explored. On Oct. 16, the FISTA Trust Authority is slated to meet at 8 a.m. and the City Council is slated to meet at 2 p.m.
"We are excited for the potential of this new venture," said Jay Burk of the FISTA Trust Authority. "This will keep our mall viable, create an incredible economic driver for our community and continue to drive traffic downtown. We are working to sustain positive change for Lawton Fort Sill through this initiative; the time is now."
If Friday's items are approved, the City of Lawton will undergo proper due diligence and appraisal processes before finalizing ownership of the building. Retailers in Central Mall will not be affected by the transition; FISTA Trust Authority members foresee an uptick in sales to their businesses as well as the opportunity to fill currently vacant spaces within the mall as this project develops.
A primary activity of the FISTA Trust Authority that will manage the FISTA Innovation Park – which will be customized to meet the needs of contractors, academic institutions and tenants – is to plan, establish and develop facilities that will attract defense contractors and high-technology industry to Lawton. Another primary activity includes promoting dialogue among leadership of Lawton Fort Sill, state and national entities aimed at creating a comprehensive understanding of the needs of the U.S. Army's Field Artillery School and the Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) and Cross-Functional Teams.
To date, there are 10 letters of interest, one MOU (memorandum of understanding), three letters of support from Congressional Delegation and many more discussions taking place with different entities interested in participating in the facility.
Additional announcements concerning further development of the FISTA Innovation Park are expected in the near future.