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Lawtonians plan to combat disruption

Lawtonians have been disrupted, and the disruption will only continue. Now what do they plan to do about it?

That was the question posed Daniel Burrus, futurist and technology consultant, to more than 300 Southwest Oklahomans (including a number of Cameron Presidential Leaders and University Scholars) at a workshop  "Get Ahead of Digital Disruption"  last week.

The advance of technology has sent shock waves throughout society, from retailing to news to who  if anyone  will drive your car or the truck that delivers your milk and clothing.

Burrus is not of the "gloom and doom" band of futurists who think technology will do away with millions upon millions of jobs. Yes, some jobs will be lost, but there will be new jobs and the combination of people plus technology can be a boon. Just because an airplane has an autopilot doesn't mean it no longer needs a pilot. An oncologist plus a computer is better than either alone.

But taking advantage of change means you have to get ahead of the curve. And at his workshop last week  sponsored by the Lawton Rotary Institute with the help of several private and public organizations  he asked participants to identify trends and think about how Lawton can take advantage of them.

As participants were asked to present their suggestions, there were many suggestions. 

Build upon the presence of Fort Sill, which stands to gain from increased spending and will bring more people with stable income, high motivation and high-tech skills to the area.

Foster entrepreneurship by supporting mentoring and business incubation and finding venture capital.

Create a senior-friendly community to an aging population that puts housing and services close together and lets senior interact with the broader community.

At the same time, foster entertainment and activities  and jobs  that appeal to younger residents so they can make careers here instead of moving to larger cities.

While you're at it, make sure Lawton cleans up its act by making itself a more beautiful community. Counter the negative reputation of Lawton so that people want to live here. Use technology to make crime prevention more efficient.

"If we don't do that, no matter what else we do companies are not going to want to move here," Gene Love said.

Increase tourism. Develop a mentorship plan to encourage young people to succeed the Goodyear tire plant workers who are retiring. Focus on sustainable growth instead of sprawl. Improve the technology infrastructure. 

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