The Lawton Economic Development Corporation still has plans to develop business survival grants, but will delay implementation of the program.
LEDC President Brad Cooksey said LEDC and the City of Lawton have been making plans for a joint venture to offer grants to small businesses that are suffering because of the economic turndown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. LEDC had attempted to get matching federal grants to expand the $250,000 that the City Council already had approved from economic development funds, but that federal funding did not materialize.
Cooksey said the Oklahoma Department of Commerce has a program that is awarding such grants. LEDC officials decided to let the state commerce program run its course, then introduce Lawton’s small business grant program when the state program ends.
“We’ll try to spread the message. All kinds of grants are available at the national, state and city level,” he said. “We will help out small businesses, those who could not qualify for or get that (state or federal) money.”
Home sales recovering
Homes sales in July are recovering, despite the economic shutdown affecting other parts of the economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barry Ezerski, a member of the Lawton Economic Development Corporation Board of Trustees, said closings on sold homes in Lawton were strong in July.
“It probably will be the best month for closings since 2010,” he said, adding real estate agents are tracking more than 200 closings for the month and while “under contracts” are on par with the same time last year, “May and June were up quite a bit.”
As a result, the average sale price for a home is up in the county and in the City of Lawton, he said.
Ezerski and other real estate officials credit the military.
Ezerski said some Army posts have opened up and are allowing their personnel to travel, after officials imposed a ban on traveling from all military installations because of COVID-19. He said while the travel ban still is in place for 75 percent of Army posts across the country, Fort Sill is among the eight posts where travel is permitted.
“Fort Sill folk can leave here, but if they are going to a post that’s closed, they won’t be able to go,” he said, explaining that in addition to those personnel remaining in Lawton-Fort Sill because they can’t travel to their next assignment, people coming to Lawton from closed posts may not arrive yet, but they still are buying homes.
— Compiled by Kim McConnell/staff