Mon, June 24, 2024

National cyber director gets Augusta tour

Georgia’s senior senator and the man who serves as principal to the President on cybersecurity policy and strategy spent Monday touring two hubs of Augusta’s cyber community.

Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga) and Harry Coker, Jr., National Cyber Director, began their day at the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center just off 12th Street. National Science Foundation Assistant Director, Erwin Gianchandani joined them.

Ossoff said the visit continues the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to growing Augusta as the nation’s cybersecurity capital. The push began last year when Augusta was named one of five workplace hubs to create training and education pathways leading to well-paying jobs. Augusta, along with South Carolina, is also a Regional Tech Hub, to create jobs in emerging industries and strengthen energy security.

“Augusta continues to lead the way in Georgia and nationally at developing a cyber security workforce, creating opportunities for young people and people at every stage of their career to gain the skills necessary to defend American businesses, critical infrastructure, and our national security assets from cyber threats,” said Ossoff during a press conference following the meeting at the cyber center.

Information on the White House’s website listed the participants as Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, Army Cyber Technology and Innovation Center (ArCTIC), Augusta Technical College, Augusta University, Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) Alliance for Fort Eisenhower, Peraton, Savannah River National Lab, and Scientific Research Corporation.

Coker said the visit made good on a commitment he made during his confirmation hearing last year, when Ossoff invited him to visit Augusta.

He said the federal government is investing billions of dollars nationwide to meet the challenges of an increasingly digital world. In Georgia, that includes $2.7 billion to provide affordable, high-speed internet service, $950 million to promote clean energy, buildings, and manufacturing, along with $178 million to Synesqo to build the new facility making components of electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

“Why do I bring up investments in clean energy,” he asked. “Because, like all industries, clean energy will need a safe digital foundation, starting with strong cybersecurity and importantly, cyber talent, exactly the kind of talent that you’re fostering here at the Georgia Cyber Center as part of the workforce hub. The Augusta workforce hub has the power to be not only one of the engines of America’s clean energy transition, but also, again, the national center for the cyber workforce, development, and education.”

Coker added the private sector talent, joined by government and academia in Augusta is creating a model upon which other cities can develop cyber workforce opportunities.

Ossoff also used the briefing to highlight the Fort Eisenhower Cyber Enhancement Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden earlier this year.

“That means $163 million on the way to upgrade Fort Eisenhower’s Cyber Center of Excellence. That, alongside Mr. Coker’s visit here today, is a demonstration of the continued momentum that we’re building to elevate Augusta as a national hub for cybersecurity,” he said.

Following the meetings at the cyber center, Ossoff and Coker traveled to Fort Eisenhower to visit the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence. In the past eight years, the center has resulted in about 9,000 new military personnel moving to the Augusta area.

Recently, ABD reported another battalion connected to cyber is scheduled to come to the fort in the future, bringing an additional 500 personnel to the Army post.

Ossoff told ABD he believes continued growth means a bright future for the fort and for the Augusta area.

“We can expect continued strong growth of Augusta and the CSRA as a national cybersecurity capital,” he said. “That’s why we passed the Fort Eisenhower Cyber Enhancement Act. That’s why the President designated Augusta a national workforce hub. That’s why today, we have the senior most official in cyber security in the United States here to double down on that national commitment to Augusta to defend the nation’s critical infrastructure, our Department of Defense, our academic institutions, our schools, and our hospitals from threats, and to expand opportunities for people here in Augusta to get good paying jobs in cybersecurity.”

Ossoff added that one out of every 20 jobs recently created in the U.S. was connected to cyber security. He said those are stable, long-term careers with high income potential and programs offered in the Augusta area open the door to those jobs.

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