Young Professionals of Lawton was created under the basis of one priority reason; Economic Development of the Lawton Fort Sill community. Are there multiple other reasons? Certainly, yet they all continue to flow back in to the principle concept of “growing our economy in Lawton by virtue of developing, mentoring, and ultimately retaining our future leadership in the community.” The old method of economic development suggested communities that had the most glamorous amenities, or even the ones that took the most pro-active involvement in recruiting new industry, were the most successful in landing major industry to set up shop; although, times have changed, what we face today is the humbling fact that large corporations/employers mainly decide to come where communities already have a flourishing, educated, and ready workforce to employ. Thus, if Lawton is challenged to retain our most precious resource; (those talented, bright, aspiring career-bound professionals of the future), than we will be left behind. We must retain what we have today in order to develop what we want tomorrow.
When it Started:
Young Professionals of Lawton (YPL) began gaining traction early 2016 at a Chamber of Commerce Board Planning Retreat. The conversation filled the room as several community leaders suggested the creation of a Young Professionals group in Lawton to provide outlets for young leaders to network, connect with a mentor, and potentially be identified/groomed for public leadership positions. This discussion turned in to a popular theme, eventually landing on the Chamber’s official business agenda to achieve in Fiscal Year 2016-17. Fast-forwarding, an official “Kick-Off Weekend” was revealed April 2017 with a series of events showcasing the brand new program.
Where it Started:
Following the Chamber’s Annual Board Planning Retreat, the project landed for execution in the Chamber’s Membership Department by staff member Andrew Duffy. The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce served as the launching pad for utilization of all potential resources to enable success of this new community program.
Who Was Involved:
Andrew Duffy served as the initial Project Lead to stand up the new civic organization for carrying forth by the community. He was responsible for executing all early phases of YPL; to include planning, development, recruitment of volunteer board members, gaining community buy-in, and publicizing the new program to the community. During these early planning phases, a Project Steering Committee of 28 young leaders throughout the community were identified by the Chamber to serve as the initial leadership team to plan out the program launch. These individuals were responsible for the execution of the April 2017 Kick-Off Weekend/ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Fred Fitch. Shortly following the launch, elections took place by the steering committee to nominate volunteer board officers to carry forth the future of the program.