In early 2017, Georgia state government made clear its commitment to growing and nurturing the state’s cybersecurity talent with the allocation of an initial $58 million, and then another $35 million, into the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Training. The campus of the Augusta-based center officially opened on July 10.
“This visionary approach to cybersecurity underscores our commitment to encouraging innovation and developing a deep talent pool ready to establish Georgia as the safest state in the nation for today’s leaders in technology,” said Governor Governor Nathan Deal in a statement last year regarding the Cyber Center.
Georgia currently ranks third in the nation for information security, generating more than $4.7 billion in annual revenue fed by 115+ cybersecurity companies. But this growing industry needs a pipeline of talent, and despite the many local research universities, the Georgia Technology Authority estimates that the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs in Georgia will rise to more than 10,000 by 2021.
“We are all going to be proud of what this building has done and what it will do,” Governor Deal said during last night’s ribbon-cutting event. During the ceremony, the entire campus was also dedicated to Governor Deal.
The downtown Augusta space will bring together university partners like Augusta Tech and Augusta University, law enforcement, the U.S. Army, and the private sector under one roof to innovate within the cybersecurity sector and related technologies.
That includes a niche for technology startups. In May, the Cyber Center announced a strategic partnership with entrepreneur-focused non-profit theClubhou.se to manage a 7,000-square-foot innovation space within the Hull McKnight Building, serving as an incubator for early-stage entrepreneurs.
“One of the big challenges for us in growing the startup community is that we’ve always been in old spaces within the community, and it’s been great to breathe new life to these old spaces, but the fact that we’ll now be in a new, state-of-the-art building for meetings is going to stimulate a lot of business activity,” Eric Parker, founder and president of theClubhou.se, told Hypepotamus in May.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is one of the first tenants to move into their new offices on the fourth floor. The Augusta GBI office will have a different purpose than Dekalb County’s focus on child exploitation crimes — high-tech crime investigations. With the assistance of nearby Fort Gordon, the U.S. Army’s cyber unit, the GBI forensic staff will investigate cyber crimes and banking or fraud scams, as well as train local law enforcement how to legally capture crime’s digital footprint.
The GBI team will be housing interns from Augusta University in their Digital Forensics Lab to develop the cyber-focused law enforcement workforce; local law enforcement will also be invited to participate in fellowships.
Augusta University and Augusta Tech will both house their cybersecurity-focused degree programs in the building. The University of Georgia and the Georgia National Guard will also have a presence.
The completed building is equipped with a state-of-the-art auditorium that sits 380+ people, a lobby coffee shop, a data center on every floor, communal break rooms, classroom space, multiple conference rooms, an event-friendly rooftop, and a hackathon-friendly space called the ‘Virtual Room’ that features removable walls.
The nearly floor-to-ceiling windows on every floor provide a wide view of the Savannah River.
A second nearly identical building, the Schaffer-McCartney building, is currently being built next door and is expected to open in December 2018. It will house the center’s technology incubator/accelerator space and more private sector technology companies.
Take a first look inside the Cyber Center.
Photos by Muriel Vega for Hypepotamus