Georgia Cyber Center Recognized for Economic, Workforce Impact

The facility designed and built to serve as a hub for cybersecurity industry, academia and government collaboration has continued to see success in bolstering the IT workforce and the state’s economy.

by Tom Corwin, The Augusta Chronicle / November 12, 2019
Georgia Cyber Center

(TNS) — Georgia may have the best business climate but it is the environment inside Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta that excites Tom Barnes of Parson Corporation and other cyber and defense contractors.

Gov. Brian Kemp was at the center Wednesday to announce that Georgia has been named the best state climate for business for a record seventh year in a row by Site Selection magazine.

"This ranking is not given, it is earned," Kemp said. "Site Selection magazine highlighted our world class workforce, infrastructure and logistics hubs. They acknowledge our low cost of doing business and praise leaders on the state, regional and local level who are focused on advancing policies to grow jobs and economic opportunities."

Kemp last month announced Parsons would be expanding its Augusta operations by 80 positions, in addition to the 20 or so already on the ground, and Wednesday he got to meet at the center with Parsons and a number of the other entities there, such as Augusta University and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Cyber Crime Center.

"We are thrilled that a leading cybersecurity company like Parsons has decided to invest and grow right here in Augusta," Kemp said. "Their expansion showcases the Cyber Center's tremendous impact on the CSRA, the state and beyond. These additional high quality jobs will only add to Georgia's resume as a national leader in the cyberindustry and a key national security asset."

What Parsons and others find so attractive is that unique mix of industry, academia and government all interacting in one place, with the ability of talented people to go from one to the other within the center, said Barnes, director of strategic cyberoperations, plans and programming.

"I firmly believe that there is no other place like the Georgia Cyber Center," he said. "For us, it's rich fertile recruiting grounds." Of the 20 or so already working for Parsons in Augusta, only a couple were brought in from outside the area, Barnes said.

"Everyone else has either been a retiree from Fort Gordon or has moved out of Fort Gordon or was just a local person that was working here" already, he said. "There is a workforce but I would say we still need to greatly expand that workforce so we can meet all of the demands" for that talent. That will be not only among defense and intelligence contractors like Parsons but also from U.S. Army Cyber Command, which will complete the move of its headquarters to Fort Gordon in June, as it tries to retain its workforce, including a number of civilian positions, Barnes said.

"We're all competing for the same people," he said, a competition that will grow in Augusta soon.

©2019 The Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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