The Lawton Sears has been closed at the Central Mall since 2017 and we've all wondered what, if anything would be moving in to take its place. I know I've had a wish list of stores I'd like to see in that location, I think we all have. It's such a large space we thought the mall would part it out to several different stores if they couldn't find one big one. Well it looks like that space has finally be leased and will no longer be empty.

I know we were all wanting another great store to open up in the mall to take Sears place and there's been plenty of rumors over the years as to who or what it would be, now we know. The Sears location at the Central Mall will be the new home of FISTA (Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator). It will house all kinds of programmers, developers, engineers, defense contractors and employees of the DoD (Department of Defense) working with the U.S. Army and Fort Sill on various projects and technologies.

While it's not exactly what we wanted at least it's not sitting empty and it should provide more job opportunities to Lawton, Fort Sill not to mention tax revenues for the city. If this all sounds familiar that's because the FISTA team was originally going to be located in the old Fairmont Creamery building. This was the first plan that LEDC (Lawton Economic Development Corporation) had for FISTA. The city was prepared to spend $2.5 million to purchase the building, make all the required improvements and fund the FISTA project using the CIP (Capital Improvements Program) funds.

I guess the deal fell through or the expense to update and renovate the Fairmont Creamery were just to high. With the Sears location at Central Mall they can more easily transform the property into what will suit their needs and for a lot less. FISTA could be up and running by the end of 2020.

Hopefully it will have the positive impact and results in industrial economic development the city needs and we have something to show for our money. Now what will they do with the old DIllards space?