Author Archives: Augusta Tomorrow

Southern Business & Development magazine has named Augusta to the South’s top
honor as the best “Mid-Market of the Year” in 2017, according to the Augusta Economic
Development Authority. In 2015, the magazine named Augusta as one of the “Ten Sizzling
Mid-Market Economies” in the South.
Michael Randle, Publisher of Southern Business & Development, said, “Augusta
garnered the top spot among all medium-sized economic development markets based on their
strong recruitment efforts for new jobs and investments.” Randle continued, “Throughout the
South, there are communities on the move, where cities’ economic growth and development are
outpacing the rest of the country. Augusta is one of these cities, with the Augusta Economic
Development Authority leading the way. Their overall ranking was impressive.”In Randle’s state-by-state summaries, “It was a nice year for Georgia, with its highest
point total in several years. A nice mix of industries and service projects. Augusta had a year
like no other to win “Mid-Market of the Year”.
The magazine points to recent Augusta locations of Unisys, EdenCrete, Jacobsen Turf,
Textron Specialized Vehicles and the CyberSecurity Command at Fort Gordon, along with
expansions at Automatic Data Processing, Standard Aero, Starbucks, and Solvay as reasons
for the top honor.
The remainder of the top five mid-markets after Augusta’s first-place showing was
Brevard County FL, Durham-Chapel Hill NC, Montgomery AL and Spartanburg SC. Other top
performances after the top five were Northern Kentucky, Gulfport/Biloxi MS, Kingsport/Bristol
TN, Roanoke VA, Corpus Christi TX, Huntsville AL and Lexington KY.
The rankings are based on a point system for expanded and new manufacturing, service
projects and military-related projects. Retail, lodging, entertainment, office buildings and
industrial parks are not eligible in the totals.
According to Randle “It should be noted that there is a new industry sector listed this
year that shows the performance of each sector over the last six years. Cybersecurity has
never been listed as a sector in any SB&D list, simply because there were not enough cyber
deals to post. Yet, with eight big deals this year, cybersecurity made it onto the list for the first
time. As that industry matures, look for plenty of projects coming out of Northern Virginia and
Augusta, where the new Army Cyber Command is being built at Fort Gordon.”
Southern Business & Development is recognized as the top economic development
publication for southern-based recruitment efforts in fifteen southern states, from West Virginia
to Florida to Texas and Oklahoma.

Author: Walter Sprouse/ Executive Director/ Augusta Economic Development Authority
Source: Press Release

 

North Augusta’s Planning Commission gave a preliminary OK on Thursday to the Crowne Plaza Hotel development in Riverside Village at Hammond’s Ferry.

The approval was conditional because the developer, Greenstone Properties, has yet to submit plans for lighting and landscaping.

Interim Planning Director Charles Martin said the “much-anticipated” hotel would be five stories, with 180 rooms, a rooftop bar, meeting spaces, and restaurants inside and outdoors.

Commission Chairman Chip Burnett said officials had said earlier that the hotel would resemble the famed Hampton Terrace, North Augusta’s jewel until it burned 100 years ago. The renderings didn’t look much like it to him, he said.

Harvey Rudy, Green­stone’s senior vice president for development, said designers started with that idea, but dropped dormers and cupolas as they worked through the process because they gave the structure a “dated” look.

“It’s not meant to be a replica of the Hampton Terrace,” he said. “It’s a modern version of that.”

Turner Simpkins, of the Hammond’s Ferry Design and Review Committee, which approved the design, agreed with Rudy. Pointing to a side elevation drawing, he said various design elements made it look like Hampton Terrace, just without the dormers and cupolas.

Rudy said Greenstone hoped to start construction in the fall and that the hotel was expected to open in December 2018.

The vote to OK the plan was 5-0, with Commissioner JoAn McKie absent.

The panel also approved the “live above” retail development that will face the hotel from across Railroad Avenue and back up to Brick Pond Park, with a 25-foot buffer.

The first floor of the long, narrow building will be for retail, with a series of 1,000-1,110-square-foot spaces. Floors two through four would be condominiums, probably 12 per floor, ranging in size from 1,000-1,400 square feet.

The city’s Owner’s Representative for the Riverside Village project, James Dean, said a two-bedroom condo would be typical. A general contractor would build the shell and a local builder would finish it out, with some input from buyers about floor plan, finishes and other details.

He said he was not ready to talk about prices yet.

Construction is expected to start in September and be done by mid-2018, he said.

The commission voted 5-0 for approval.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: James Folker/Staff Writer

 

Augusta’s Starbucks plant will undergo a $120 million expansion that will nearly double the five-year-old facility’s footprint and create at least 100 new jobs, the Seattle-based coffee giant announced Thursday.

The company will break ground on a 140,000-square-foot addition later this month that is expected to add six new roasting machines to supply whole bean and ground coffee products to Starbucks outlets and other retailers throughout the East Coast.

Starbucks opened its 180,000-square-foot facility in the Augusta Corporate Park off Georgia Highway 56 in 2012 solely to produce soluble coffee for its VIA Ready Brew line of instant products.

Augusta Economic Development Authority Chairman Henry Ingram said Thursday the announcement caps a month of unprecedented growth in Augsuta.

“The last 30 days — with ADP’s expansion, with the cyber training center groundbreaking and with this new news of a $120 million expansion with Starbucks — is the greatest 30 days in our history, when you take into account the residuals that will emanate from all this economic impact,” Ingram said.

Starbucks plant manager Tim Filipowski said the expansion aligns with Starbucks global growth plan and is a testament to the quality of the company’s 180 local employees.

“This is a strong recognition of the work the team has done here to bring this facility online as quickly and well as we have,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s also a vote of confidence in that the senior leadership is going to make an additional investment in expansion here.”

Augusta EDA Executive Dirctor Walter Sprouse said Thursday the expansion was not a complete surprise since Starbucks arrived in Augusta in 2012.

“Whenever we worked with them, we made sure they had enough land to do an expansion — as a matter of fact, to do two or three expansions,” Sproue said. “And so it was not totally unexpected. It was just a matter of when.”

One of the last arrangements in the deal, finalized last week, was completing arrangements with the state of Georgia to implement its Quick Start program. Quick Start provides resources to technical colleges to help manufacturers train employees. Augusta Technical College will help train the new Starbucks workers.

Augusta District 2 Commissioner Dennis Williams said the Starbucks deal “gives hope that people can finish school and find jobs in Augusta.”

“It shows we have a skilled workforce here in Augusta for Starbucks to commit on such a level,” said Augusta District 7 Commissioner Sean Frantom.

The Augusta plant is one of nine Starbucks-owned manufacturing and distribution facilities. The world’s largest coffee retailer plans to create more than 68,000 jobs in the U.S. – 240,000 globally – by the 2021 fiscal year. Starbucks announced a similar expansion at its Carson Valley, Nev., plant in June.

Filipowski said the additional production line will bring total employment at the facility to nearly 300 when the project is complete in Fall 2019.

Arabica coffee beans are shipped to the facility through the port in Charleston, S.C. The plant roasts the beans and turns them into a powder for the VIA Ready Brew product. The new roasters will package whole or ground beans in bulk containers for use in Starbucks stores as well as 16-ounce and 20-ounce packages for retail.

“Obviously, whole bean is a much larger portion of our business,” Filipowski said. “The expansion fits well within the strategic growth plan of the company.”

In addition to its namesake brand and its VIA Ready Brew product, Starbucks’ portfolio also includes the Tazo Tea and Seattle’s Best Coffee brands.

The expansion will be on the north side of the facility.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Damon Cline and Joe Hotchkiss/Staff Writers

The Augusta Economic Development Authority announced today that Starbucks will nearly double the size of their Augusta manufacturing facility, adding 140,000 square feet to their current 180,000 square feet, and will create up to 100 new jobs. The announcement was made this morning by Starbucks Corporate Headquarters in Seattle.

Construction on the new facility will begin this summer and will be completed in the fall of 2019. The expansion is prompted by Starbucks growth and consumer demand.The Augusta plant currently employs 185 Starbucks partners. The new jobs will cover a range of positions, according to Tim Filipowski, the plant director. Of the 185 positions “Because of the technical nature of our business here, we have recruited heavily for automation specialists, operators, mechanics and technicians,” said Filipowski. “Generally, the folks coming out of the service have some or all of those experiences.” The plant maintains a close relationship with Fort Gordon. In addition to hosting job fairs at the base, Starbucks conducts regular plant tours for service members, maintains an Adopt A Unit program and supports the annual Fisher House Golf Tournament, which generates funds to aid families of patients receiving care at military and Veterans Administration medical
centers.

In 2013, Starbucks set a goal to hire 10,000 service members, veterans and military spouses by 2018. The company reached that goal earlier this year and announced a new target of 25,000 by 2025 at the Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Walt Sprouse, Executive Director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, said the connection between Starbucks and the Fort Gordon community is mutually beneficial. “We have many people who leave the military after three, six or twenty years and they are excellent workers,” Sprouse said. “Starbucks did their research and have found many qualified workers
here in Augusta.”

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said the expansion in Augusta affirms the region’s reputation as a gateway to the Southeastern market. ““As Georgia grows its reputation as the gateway to the Southeastern market, companies like Starbucks continue to strategically locate and expand operations here.” said Deal. “This decision to expand in Augusta reflects Georgia’s
ability to retain dynamic companies and support industry leaders in long-term growth. With this facility expansion, Starbucks will continue to enjoy the benefits of manufacturing in the top state for business, while creating new jobs in the Augusta area, including additional opportunities for veterans.

We appreciate our ongoing relationship with Starbucks and look forward to the company’s continued success in Georgia.”Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr., said “This is a further testament to the skilled workforce of the Augusta Community. We are very pleased to have this commitment to continued investment by Starbucks.”

Henry Ingram, Chairman of the Augusta Economic Development Authority, said, “We always had faith in Starbucks that they would want to expand here. We knew Starbucks would bring a lot of prestige and provide excellent jobs in manufacturing. We are thrilled with today’s news, and are glad to be a part of the location and expansion of this fine company.”

Starbucks opened the plant in Augusta in July 2012. It is the first company-owned facility in the world to produce Starbucks soluble products. The plant’s two roasters generate Starbucks VIA ® Instant, as well as the coffee base for Frappuccino® blended beverages and many of Starbucks bottled and canned beverages. The expansion will add six new whole bean roasters, allowing the plant to offer packaged coffee to Starbucks stores and retail locations in
the Northeast and Southeast United States.

Both Ingram and Sprouse thanked Adela Kelley of the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Dr. Lisa Palmer of Augusta Technical College for their work on this project.

When finished, Starbucks will have more than a quarter of a billion dollars invested in Augusta-Richmond County at the Augusta Corporate Park.

Source: Augusta Economic Development Authority
Author: Walter Sprouse/Executive Director

This should give you an idea of the demand for downtown Augusta property.

When word spread that the Family Y of Greater Augusta was merely thinking about putting its Downtown Y building at 945 Broad St. up for sale, three interested buyers approached the Y unsolicited. At that time, the Y didn’t even have a real-estate agent.

It’s just one example of how downtowns nationwide are attracting new interest.

In the past few decades, many downtowns suffered the effects of post-World War II development, which saw families moving to the suburbs and retailers following. Cities were casting about for magic bullets to reinvigorate their urban centers.

Now, people and developers across the country are rediscovering downtowns for their own reasons.

In Augusta, local development experts see a unique set of circumstances intersecting in its increasingly thriving downtown. It includes a strong higher-education sector, diverse employers, changing residential and business trends, and what Augusta University President Brooks Keel has described as the city’s “cyber tsunami.”

Just in the past two weeks:

Gov. Nathan Deal broke ground for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center on Augusta University’s developing Riverfront Campus between Reynolds Street and the Savannah River.

Augusta University Health signed a lease for two floors and the basement of the former Wells Fargo building at 699 Broad St.

The partnership DTJR LLC broke ground on a five-story business-class Hyatt House hotel in the 1200 block of Broad Street.

Evans-based tax preparation software company TaxSlayer bought the Downtown Y building for $2 million, and it expects to move about 100 employees into it within the year.

Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Augusta Downtown Development Authority, said there are more such announcements coming.

“I heard a developer say not too long ago, when asked ‘Why do you want to do something in Augusta?’ the answer was, ‘Your workforce is growing and your population is growing, and in most secondary markets we’re not seeing that trend,’” she said. “But Augusta is, with cyber and all that.”

TaxSlayer President Bryan Rhodes cited the “technology movement downtown” as the compelling factor behind its Downtown Y purchase.

“I think we all knew it two or three years ago. Cyber was the hot topic,” Woodard said. But she considers Deal’s stated commitment to cyber in Augusta “a big matchstick” to ignite an expected new blaze of downtown development.

If you can find property, that is.

Buildings are changing hands so quickly, it’s nearly impossible to find Broad Street property for sale above Ninth Street. That has helped move interest to lower Broad. Recently, a former art gallery at 551 Broad St. was snapped up almost immediately. Nearby, a contract has just been put out on a former floral and catering business at 520 Reynolds St.

“So we’re seeing things shift, which is great, and I think that has a lot to do with people who want to purchase and own and get in while they can,” Woodard said.

“In general there’s more interest in downtown space than I’ve probably ever seen,” developer Bryan Haltermann said. “Some interest is from people who are just kicking the tires, and other people with what I call ‘hobby businesses’” – entrepreneurs pursuing a pastime and with no solid business plan.

Haltermann bought his first downtown building in 1986 – the old Sheehan Bottleworks building in the 1100 block of Broad. The second floor was vacant, and the first floor’s two tenants were a used-shoe store and a band needing practice space. They paid monthly rent of $160 and $100, respectively.

Today the building houses Haltermann’s office, which he moved into three years ago, and a wellness salon. Upstairs, a pair of two-bedroom loft apartments each command monthly rent of $850 – and they’re both occupied.

In May, Haltermann acquired 901 Broad St., a three-story corner property he intends to convert into nine loft apartments sitting above restaurant and retail space on the ground floor.

Augusta’s downtown growth also has caught the eye of investors and developers from outside the area.

“We’re getting calls just about on a daily basis from developers, who want to see available sites or rehab projects they can do on a larger scale, who are from the South,” Woodard said.

“We’ve embraced, finally, out-of- town investors,” said Davis Beman of Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate Co. “These investors are used to other markets and able to align their investments to meet the needs of the urban dweller. This outside money coming in expanded our realm of possibilities and what is financially doable.”

A notable example is Charlotte, N.C., developer Lat Purser and Associates. In 2015, that company developed Canalside Multifamily Apartments at Walton Way and St. Sebastian Way. Out of 106 units, as of last week only seven were available for rent.

That points to another aspect of downtown growth. More people want to move downtown, and Woodard called it “our No. 1 concern right now.

“We’ve got all these people moving downtown, with the governor’s announcement and TaxSlayer,” she said. “They’re going to want to live down here.”

According to figures provided by the Downtown Development Authority, more than 7,000 people live within a one-mile radius of downtown, which has a “daytime population” of more than 30,000 in that same radius. That’s the estimated number of people who work downtown.

Those numbers are expected to grow. Downtown’s residential occupancy rate now hovers between 96 and 98 percent, according to the DDA.

“Empty-nesters no longer need school systems and swing sets and backyards. Millennials are getting married later in life and tend not to own a car or drive,” Woodard said. “And we’re seeing another trend that’s interesting – the millennials’ parents follow them. They want to live that lifestyle.”

Beman said that “a diverse platform of employers” in the Augusta area, such as Savannah River Site and Plant Vogtle, are drawing workers who have lived in other urban cores, and when they look for similar amenities, they look to downtown.

“We’re a big city and becoming a lot more diverse,” he said.

Beman also credits “a strong educational core” contributing to downtown growth.

“We have a strong technical school program and a strong university system,” he said, which studies show bring in people of all ages. Schools naturally bring in younger people, but also attract seniors “looking for other things to do when they retire” and middle-age people, often professors or other school staff who want to live near work.

Augusta University’s growth of its downtown footprint “is very similar to Mercer (University) spreading out in Macon and SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design) spreading out in Savannah,” Beman said.

Until the late 1970s, Haltermann said, retail businesses such as department stores were the “anchors” of downtown blocks. Today, it’s restaurants. “They’re the buildings that attract the traffic,” he said.

“Fast casual dining is the fastest-growing retail sector,” Woodard said. “You’ve got four (downtown) restaurants that are now on the drawing board to open up.”

And she said those are “second, third and fourth concepts for existing restaurants,” meaning their business models have proved successful elsewhere. Also, all four restaurants are local – no chains. Woodard does, however, expects to see a regional restaurant chain locate downtown within the next six months.

Where could this downtown growth lead five or 10 years from now?

“I see more restaurants. I see more loft apartments. I see more workers and I see more students. All of the above,” Haltermann said. “There’s a positive feeling about downtown, greater than I’ve seen in the past 40 years.”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Joe Hotchkiss/Staff Writer

Tax-preparation software company TaxSlayer plans to move about 100 employees to the Downtown Family Y building it recently bought.

TaxSlayer President Brian Rhodes said Monday the actual move will be up to a year away because “there are a lot of details to finalize.”

The company purchased the 94-year-old building at 945 Broad St. from the family Y of Greater Augusta on Thursday for $2 million. Richmond County has placed an assessed value on the property at $1,901,951.

“There seems to be a technology movement downtown, and we wanted to be a part of it,” Rhodes said. “That’s exactly why we wanted to open another location.”

TaxSlayer will be keeping its five-story Evans headquarters, which was built in 2012. That building will house about 50 full-time employees and about 300 seasonal workers. TaxSlayer typically hires temporary customer support representatives to provide help by phone and email to its customers each tax season, which stretches from December to May.

The employees expanding to the new downtown location will be software development and administrative staff, Rhodes said. That will require months of renovations to the building that was the first long-term home of Augusta’s Young Men’s Christian Association when it was completed in 1923.

When the Y’s administrative offices move out within 60 days, “we’ll start renovations on the top three floors,” Rhodes said. “When the Y has completely vacated at the end of the year, we’ll start on the bottom two floors.”

Many of the Downtown Y’s member services will operate until year’s end. The branch has about 1,100 members.

TaxSlayer is working through the specifics of its renovations with space planners and architects. Rhodes expects to provide more details about those renovations in August.

The Downtown Y used the building from 1923 until closing the location in 1982. In 1997 the Y donated the building to Health Central Wellness and Fitness Facility, which had been leasing the basement, gym and lobby of the building as a fitness center since 1983.

The Family Y of Greater Augusta re-acquired the building in 2010 and renamed the facility The Family Y of Downtown Augusta in 2011.

The Family Y is looking for another downtown location in part because the cost of maintaining the Broad Street building grew prohibitively expensive. The Y calculated that the cost to maintain the current downtown facility approached $3 million. If features were added that are available at newer Y branches, the cost rose to more than $5 million.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Joe Hotchkiss/Staff Writer

Medical College of Georgia Foundation is tearing down the Kroger on 15th Street as it readies the surrounding 23 acres for a mixed-use development, foundation President Ian Mercier said Thursday.

Short-term, the vacant, 35-year-old grocery was a liability, but removing it also shows progress toward creating a “clean slate; a clean campus” to market to developers, Mercier said.

Augusta radio pioneer George Weiss donated the shopping center to the foundation in 1997 to support the medical college, but the store languished for years before Kroger shuttered it in February, citing declining sales.

Working with area stakeholders that include city of Augusta officials, the foundation has developed a land use plan that includes apartments, townhomes, a hotel, office space and retail to serve the adjacent medical district and surrounding area, Mercier said.

Expect more buildings to come down in the next few months, but the foundation is giving tenants in the same strip mall such as Happy China II sufficient notice and time to relocate, he said.

The foundation has a contract to buy the nearby Augusta Public Transit administration and maintenance property, which is located among other foundation holdings. The city’s delays in moving the bus shop to a new location – slated for a Regency Mall outparcel – aren’t hindering redevelopment plans, Mercier said.

“The city has all our best interests in mind,” he said. “If we had to, we could always phase the property where the bus barn was in a second phase. We don’t have to have it today.”

In the contract with Augusta, the foundation committed to securing a grocery store tenant for the area. But whether it will go on the MCG site is undetermined.

“The challenge is, is this the best place for a grocery store?” he said. “We’re all trying to identify a store. People who don’t have cars have lost their main source of food. But if there’s a better place to build one, we’ll be supportive.”

With community support, a grocery might prefer a nearby site on Walton Way or south along 15th Street, Mercier said.

Approaching his first year as foundation president, Mercier said he is not interested in allowing foundation assets to deteriorate.

“A lot of work has gone into preparing a new site,” he said. “We’re anxious to get moving forward with this.”

The foundation’s next move is finalizing the development plan and ensuring it creates support for the university, benefits the community, benefits growth associated with the downtown cyber campus and works cohesively with other plans for the area, he said.

Mercier, who joined the foundation in 1999, said the organization had “watched this jewel of a group of properties, waiting for the right time” but that movement had stalled.

“I’m not sure we were waiting in the right way,” he said. But now, “we’ve become very aggressive in trying to push this forward. If you don’t you’ll get a healthy dose of cynicism.”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Susan McCord/Staff Writer

In light of the $60 million investment the state is making in the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, Augusta University is “upping our game” in cyber and computer sciences programs by creating a new school, President Brooks Keel announced Thursday morning.

AU will create the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, making it the university’s 10th separate college or school, and will have a national search to find a dean, Keel said.

“It gives it more prominence, more focus and allows us to strategically think more carefully about how we move forward and puts it in a place where we can really shine a light on it,” he said.

As part of that initiative, the school is partnering with Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken to create a joint faculty position in cyber security. The lab will provide $200,000 toward the position, which will allow the recruitment of someone neither entity might be able to attract on its own, said Dr. Terry A. Michalske, director of the lab.

“This is an opportunity for us to jointly attract a nationally prominent new staff member who will work both on our programs and be on the faculty,” he said. It also allows greater collaboration by institutions that have their own expertise and perspective, Michalske said.

“Each organization comes at it from a different angle, from a little different perspective,” he said. “It’s those different views of the problems that really create an opportunity for truly new ideas to emerge.”

For instance, RNL already has “decades” of cybersecurity experience and expertise in securing and protecting “very sensitive” data, Michalske said.

“We have issues that we deal with in terms of locating and tracking nuclear materials to make sure we know where they are at all times. We have very sensitive data that we have to protect,” he said. “We have manufacturing facilities on the site, manufacturing materials for national security purposes, for environmental purposes. And we operate many of those in wireless configurations today. We’ve been working with the National Security Agency to develop and certify wireless protocols for our factories, which is very important.”

AU is in the midst of a 15-years alliance with Phillips that could also provide fruitful collaborations with the national lab, Keel said,

The new AU school will already have 300 students in current programs and will allow AU to recruit more faculty to expand, Keel said.

“We can’t have a school without great faculty,” he said. “We’ve got to bring more faculty and we know that. We’re rapidly moving forward to try to ramp that up.”

The school will begin in the fall and relocate to the new 168,000-square-foot cyber center on the AU Riverfront Campus once it opens next July, Keel said. After Gov. Nathan Deal moved to make the investment in the cyber center, the school had to respond in kind, he said.

“(Deal) upped the ante and it caused us to up our own ante and to put our best foot forward in terms of providing the type of education and training that the workforce is going to need, not only for that facility, not only for Fort Gordon, but for all of the other businesses and industry in our community and around (us),” Keel said.

That could have reverberations well beyond this area, Michalske said.

“I’m really confident that the partnerships that we are forming in this region are really going to set the CSRA to become an international leader and center for cybersecurity innovation and workforce training,” he said.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Tom Corwin/Staff Writer


It’s not just cyber jobs.

Col. Todd Turner needs plumbers.

Fort Gordon’s garrison commander said Tuesday that the projected growth of the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence will touch several areas of business and economic growth.

“I’ve been here about two years,” Turner said at the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Luncheon. “And I can tell you what I’ve seen picking up traction over the past 12 to 18 months. I’m really starting to see that economic development plans and the synergy across the region have been very impressive. And we are absolutely moving out toward that vision of the Cyber District.”

The Fort Gordon Cyber District is the name economic development officials have coined to help promote the Augusta area as a vibrant cybersecurity hub.

But accommodating that growth takes new or improved infrastructure, and Turner drew laughs from the audience when he asked, “Anybody looking for a job in public works?

“We talk cyber, but there are job opportunities (in) all this transformation and growth,” Turner said. “I need plumbers to do the work. I need people who are going to bring concrete in and pour it for us. I need skilled tradesmen. We need people who are admin specialists, contracting specialists.”

Turner currently oversees 68 major infrastructure projects related to the Cyber Command. Of the 70 positions in his public works section, only 54 are staffed.

“I cannot hire enough engineers, architects. If you know someone who needs a job, come talk to me,” he said.

Fort Gordon’s cyber growth has climbed steadily since the National Security Agency introduced an initial workforce of about 50 people at the fort in 1994. Spouses and families often accompany new workers, and that opens doors of opportunity for more business and economic growth.

“What’s really the opportunity here is not just with cyber,” Turner said. “It is across the community, because when these people come they’re going to need hospitals, they’re going to need lawyers, they’re going to need dental care. They’ll need child care. I mean, every industry. So that’s what’s really exciting.”

Spouses of incoming cyber-affiliated military also can seize professional opportunities. Turner’s wife, for example, is a neonatal nurse practitioner at University Hospital.

“They may be highly trained schoolteachers, nurses, professionals, both male and female in the workforce,” he said of the estimated 6,000 family members who have moved to the area in the past four years. And they “have integrated into your communities, integrated into your businesses, and are stakeholders in this community now.”

Turner said Fort Gordon has development plans for facilities to be built through 2025 and beyond. In the past 10 years, the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Security Agency has invested $1.2 billion in construction at the fort.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Joe Hotchkiss/Staff Writer

Two Augusta business leaders who pitched the idea of the original $50 million Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center to Gov. Nathan Deal just last December will be honored with their names on the building, Deal revealed Monday at the official groundbreaking for the center.

James M. Hull and William D. McKnight’s names will now grace the building as “planters of the seed” for the idea of the center, Deal said. Even before a foundation has been laid, the center has now increased to $60 million, not including a $12 million parking deck, and expanded from 150,000 square feet to 168,000 square feet, Deal said. That is in response to just the demand for space in the building, not only from state and federal agencies who will work and train there but from private contractors who want to have a significant presence there, said Calvin Rhodes, executive director of the

But Augusta University President Brooks Keel, whose university will run the center and have a large presence within it, said the building itself could just be “phase one” of more buildings on the 17-acre AU Riverfront Campus of what he sees as an eventual “digital village.”

Even in its present state it is “way beyond” what the Augusta leaders were presenting and is a credit to Deal’s vision, said Hull, who represents Augusta and surrounding communities on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Tom Corwin/Staff Writer