A unique partnership between two Lawton entities has been recognized by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education with its Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award.
The award highlights successful partnerships between higher education institutions, businesses, and the community that are intended to further cultivate the higher learning environment through economic development grants provided by State Regents.
Cameron University’s collaboration with the Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator (FISTA) was one of approximately two dozen partnerships recognized April 27 by State Regents at a ceremony in Edmond, according to a press release.
Through Cameron’s partnership with FISTA, local entities collaborate to meet workforce needs in southwest Oklahoma. The FISTA Innovation Park, located in Lawton, houses technology companies, defense contractors and learning institutions that support defense operations. The park offers 200,000 square feet of space for defense technology industries and helps defense businesses build relationships and share resources.
FISTA is expected to generate 150 high-tech jobs within two years of its opening, with an estimated 275 service, retail and other ancillary jobs added to the Lawton-Fort Sill community. The total economic impact is expected to be $50 million.
“Cameron University is extremely grateful for the partnership with the FISTA. This organization supports amazing new employment opportunities for our graduates and for our community,” said CU president John McArthur.
Institutions involved in the partnership program provide $500 for tuition waivers to employees of the partnering businesses; internships that enable current students to work at the partnering businesses; faculty externships with the partnering businesses; and/or enhancement of the partnerships with additional equipment, materials or supplies. State Regents match to each waiver with $500.
“Our colleges and universities continue collaborating successfully with public, private and nonprofit partners to strengthen economic and workforce development across Oklahoma,” said Allison Garrett, chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education. “Producing more workforce-ready graduates by increasing communication with employers and connecting students to the workforce sooner is a fundamental goal of Blueprint 2030, the State Regents’ new strategic plan for public higher education. We are proud to recognize these partnerships and their positive impact on Oklahoma businesses and communities.”
In addition to Cameron University, Western Oklahoma State College and Altus Air Force Base also received an award.
Through its relationship with Altus Air Force Base (AAFB), Western Oklahoma State College collaborated with the Communications Squadron to address workforce needs in cybersecurity and information technology, according to a press release. WOSC became an Authorized Academy Partner with CompTIA and developed a non-credit bearing micro-credential in Security+. Active duty and civilian students received a full scholarship for the class and the certificate exam cost.
Altus Air Force Base served as a partner for WOSC’s Workforce Readiness Summit and Career Fair, which provided foundational sessions, guided participants to a career path, and taught best practices for interviewing and resume writing.