Category Archives: Uncategorized

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


Even before its formal groundbreaking Monday, work is well underway on the $50 million Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center on the Augusta University Riverfront campus. The mission of the center – to provide cybersecurity education and training to students. and a wide variety of workers – has also begun and is taking shape as well, said Calvin Rhodes, executive director of the Georgia Technology Authority tasked with building the center.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who has championed the center, and other officials will gather at 10 a.m. for the ceremony, which will also include an announcement about a new partnership between AU, the state of Georgia and a partner to be named at the ceremony, he said.

Much of the planning of both the exterior and interior of the 159,000-square-foot building has been completed, Rhodes said.

“A big accomplishment is we have picked out the look and feel of the interiors. We have settled on all interior wall placements for the space that is going to be finished,” he said, with about half the building initially finished for tenants and the other half available for lessees to finish. “We are still making some adjustments to the connection to the (Savannah River) levee from the second floor of the building.”

That would connect the building to what Rhodes envisions will be an extension of the current Riverwalk Augusta. Planning for the $12 million, 575-space parking deck is also complete, and the state and the city of Augusta are working out the details to manage the deck, which may go before the Augusta Commission this week.

The current work is proceeding quickly because of excellent cooperation from agencies, particularly the city of Augusta, which granted land disturbance permits in “record time,” Rhodes said.

“The partnership there has been tremendous, which has allowed us to go ahead and start doing several things early,” he said.

Most of the grading and underground work with utilities and storm drains is underway and should be done by July 26, with concrete pouring of foundations and footings to begin soon after, Rhodes said. The building has a very quick schedule after that, with steel going up in September, the shell of the building completed by Jan. 31, with drywall starting in February. The building is scheduled to be completed June 21, 2018, and open July 10, 2018, he said.

Much of the interior design has been done in conjunction with AU, which will manage the day-to-day operation of the center, and other partners that will be housed in the building, including the University System of Georgia, Augusta Technical College, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia National Guard, Rhodes said. Those agencies and the Army Cyber School have also been involved in working groups to shape the training and curriculum that will be offered both in and through the center, he said.

The goal is to “stand up programming that it is going to fit well together,” he said.

The authority has already launched the Georgia Cybersecurity Workforce Academy to begin that training, Rhodes said. The academy “will train state and local government computer security officers on how to better do their jobs, and sharpen their skills, and learn new skills,” he said. “That’s something that our agency and the executive branch of government will benefit from on day one.

“(But) the different partners are already working together and we have individuals in classes today learning that new course of study to help them be successful. The piece that we’re missing right now is they cannot go yet and test those skills inside of a Cyber Range to make sure they’ve learned what we’ve discussed in a classroom.”

The large cyber range within the building, one of only a handful in the country, will be a major site of training and learning once the building is completed. AU Cyber Institute, which has a small cyber range now, will be located within the building as well.

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

AU lease agreement gives it naming rights to the old Wells Fargo building.

Augusta University’s name recognition is about to get bigger.

And taller.

AU’s health system has entered a lease agreement for office space in the former Wells Fargo building downtown that grants the school exclusive naming rights for Augusta’s third-tallest building.

“It’s a premier building in downtown Augusta and gives a tremendous amount of visibility,” said Davis Beman, vice president and director of commercial real estate for Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate Co. “To get the Augusta (University) logo on the side is a pretty special thing.”

The agreement, signed last week, would lease the 14th and sixth floors and basement of the building at 699 Broad St. Each floor of the building encompasses 10,800 square feet.

The university had been looking for more downtown space for several months. Growth on AU’s Health Sciences campus prompted a need to relocate some nonclinical and nonacademic functions off-campus.

AU offices already occupy space in the Augusta Riverfront Center at 1 10th St. Further down Reynolds Street, AU is forming its Riverfront Campus with the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center as its centerpiece.

Shawn Vincent, chief operating officer of AU Medical Center, called the expansion into 699 Broad “the natural choice.”

“Our president, Dr. (Brooks) Keel and our new CEO, Lee Ann Liska, are committed to Augusta University and AU Health being woven into the fabric of this community,” he said. “Signage on one of downtown Augusta’ s most recognizable and iconic buildings is a great step forward to making that a reality.”

While a permanent name for the building has not yet been agreed upon, Vincent said AU plans to place its characteristic shield logo on two sides of the building. “We don’t want to create any confusion that medical care would be available at this building,” he said.

There is no solid timeline for occupancy, but “we would like everyone to be in the building within a few months,” Vincent said.

“Everyone” includes teams whose companies have formed working partnerships with AU.

An alliance with the electronics firm Philips allows the company access to AU’s clinical services to find ways to improve productivity and efficiency in imaging technology. AU’s alliance with Beckman Coulter Inc. performs similar work with diagnostic and business processes.

The 699 Broad space also will house physician liaisons who work with community-based doctors; AU’s Center for Rural Health; and administrative functions associated with the Georgia Correctional HealthCare, AU’s division that provides health care to more than 60 correctional facilities across the state.

AU plans some renovations such as painting, carpeting, ceiling tiles, utility fixtures and accommodations for the offices’ information technology needs. There will be space redesigns, but few walls will be moved.

The 17-story, 262-foot building was completed in 1967 as the new home of the Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust Co. In 1986, First Union Corp. bought the building and attached its name to it.

In 2003, the building bore the Wachovia name to reflect the formal merger of First Union and Wachovia in 2001. In 2008, the building was renamed the Wells Fargo Building after that bank acquired a struggling Wachovia.

The Wells Fargo lettering on the outside of the building was taken down in October 2015 after the bank vacated its branch on the ground floor. At about the same time, Blanchard and Calhoun began marketing the naming rights for the building.

“The availability of naming rights to the building have been attractive from corporate prospects and with the amenities and dedicated parking of the building it has a lease-up potential greater than other properties downtown,” Beman told The Augusta Chronicle at the time.

Augusta Riverfront Limited Partnership has owned the building and adjacent parking lot since 2000. Augusta Riverfront has ties to management of Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Chronicle.

Author: Joe Hotchkiss 

 

Augusta University’s name recognition is about to get bigger.

And taller.

AU’s health system has entered a lease agreement for office space in the former Wells Fargo building downtown that grants the school exclusive naming rights for Augusta’s third-tallest building.

“It’s a premier building in downtown Augusta and gives a tremendous amount of visibility,” said Davis Beman, vice president and director of commercial real estate for Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate Co. “To get the Augusta (University) logo on the side is a pretty special thing.”

The agreement, signed last week, would lease the 14th and sixth floors and basement of the building at 699 Broad St. Each floor of the building encompasses 10,800 square feet.

The university had been looking for more downtown space for several months. Growth on AU’s Health Sciences campus prompted a need to relocate some nonclinical and nonacademic functions off-campus.

AU offices already occupy space in the Augusta Riverfront Center at 1 10th St. Further down Reynolds Street, AU is forming its Riverfront Campus with the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center as its centerpiece.

Shawn Vincent, chief operating officer of AU Medical Center, called the expansion into 699 Broad “the natural choice.”

“Our president, Dr. (Brooks) Keel and our new CEO, Lee Ann Liska, are committed to Augusta University and AU Health being woven into the fabric of this community,” he said. “Signage on one of downtown Augusta’ s most recognizable and iconic buildings is a great step forward to making that a reality.”

While a permanent name for the building has not yet been agreed upon, Vincent said AU plans to place its characteristic shield logo on two sides of the building. “We don’t want to create any confusion that medical care would be available at this building,” he said.

There is no solid timeline for occupancy, but “we would like everyone to be in the building within a few months,” Vincent said.

“Everyone” includes teams whose companies have formed working partnerships with AU.

An alliance with the electronics firm Philips allows the company access to AU’s clinical services to find ways to improve productivity and efficiency in imaging technology. AU’s alliance with Beckman Coulter Inc. performs similar work with diagnostic and business processes.

The 699 Broad space also will house physician liaisons who work with community-based doctors; AU’s Center for Rural Health; and administrative functions associated with the Georgia Correctional HealthCare, AU’s division that provides health care to more than 60 correctional facilities across the state.

AU plans some renovations such as painting, carpeting, ceiling tiles, utility fixtures and accommodations for the offices’ information technology needs. There will be space redesigns, but few walls will be moved.

The 17-story, 262-foot building was completed in 1967 as the new home of the Georgia Railroad Bank and Trust Co. In 1986, First Union Corp. bought the building and attached its name to it.

In 2003, the building bore the Wachovia name to reflect the formal merger of First Union and Wachovia in 2001. In 2008, the building was renamed the Wells Fargo Building after that bank acquired a struggling Wachovia.

The Wells Fargo lettering on the outside of the building was taken down in October 2015 after the bank vacated its branch on the ground floor. At about the same time, Blanchard and Calhoun began marketing the naming rights for the building.

“The availability of naming rights to the building have been attractive from corporate prospects and with the amenities and dedicated parking of the building it has a lease-up potential greater than other properties downtown,” Beman told The Augusta Chronicle at the time.

Augusta Riverfront Limited Partnership has owned the building and adjacent parking lot since 2000. Augusta Riverfront has ties to management of Morris Communications Co., the owner of The Chronicle.

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

Wondering when Augusta will become a cyber hub?

It already is.

That’s one of the findings from an Augusta University study designed to learn what regional employers are looking for when staffing metro Augusta’s current and future cyber workforce.

Co-creators of the study shared its major findings Thursday ahead of the full study’s planned release June 26.

“The workforce study has two components,” said Dr. William Hatcher, director of AU’s Master of Public Administration program. “The first part is taking a snapshot of what the data is right now, looking at the cyber workforce right now. The second component was a survey of local businesses, nonprofits and public agencies.”

The study estimated the size of Metro Augusta’s cyber workforce to be 12,716 occupations, which comprises 5.3 percent of the total area workforce. More than 77 percent of the area’s cyber jobs are at Fort Gordon.

Cyber-related jobs tend to be high-wage positions with a mean annual wage between $46,150 to $110,390.

“So right now we’re already a cyber hub,” Hatcher said.

Another finding researchers found interesting came from the employer surveys. When AU queried more than 1,500 companies of varying sizes, nonprofits and public agencies, it concluded that metro Augusta is moving toward fulfilling a prediction from Fortune magazine earlier this year. It listed Augusta as one of the “7 Cities That Could Become the World’s Cybersecurity Capital.”

“Over the next two to five years, with the survey we found we’re going to have about a 138 percent growth based on what the companies told us about the jobs they plan to add in cyber-related occupations,” Hatcher said. “The really interesting take-away from that: That’s mostly from private businesses in the area. That’s not Fort Gordon.”

And that takes into account only the businesses that already are here – not the ones likely to start in or move to metro Augusta in the next five years.

“One of the things we want to do going forward, as a service to the community, is to do this survey every year, and incorporate a component where we’re tracking the number of new businesses created,” Hatcher said. “The spill-off effect of the growth at Fort Gordon that’s going on in the community is that there’s going to be a number of new businesses created – startups, businesses coming to the area. We don’t track that with our survey yet.”

Employers told AU researchers that the top degrees they desire from job applicants are bachelor’s degrees in information technology and computer science. That finding adds to the study’s usefulness.

“How can we as a community come together and cultivate programs where we can educate people to have these types of skills and be prepared for these types of jobs and these types of roles that these companies are looking to (fill) in the next one to five years?” asked Dr. Wesley Meares, an associate professor of political science and public administration and a co-creator of the study.

Because AU already has those degree offerings, Hatcher said that strengthens the school’s ties to the community.

“So if you’re coming up, your family lives here and you’re thinking about college, we have those programs in place and were going to grow those programs,” Hatcher said. “You stay here if you’re going into some kind of computer science instead of going to Georgia Tech. We keep you here and we’re more likely to retain you.”

Creators started designing the study in February and began researching federal labor statistics. Completed surveys were sent the last full week of March – or the week before Masters Week, in hopes of catching employers ahead of the popular golf tournament.

AU sent out 1,554 surveys and 304 were returned. Of those, 278 were “completed to the point of usefulness,” Meares said. That makes a response rate of almost 18 percent, which increases the accuracy of projections.

“Usually when you do surveys the response rates are about 5 to 10 percent,” Hatcher said.

“We were really happy we got upward toward 20 percent. I feel it’s going to be more representative that we got that higher response rate.”

AU also is working on a website to publicize the findings, which will tie to both the school’s MPA program and its Cyber Institute.

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

It was a long time coming, but Thursday was a big day for what used to be called Project Jackson.

Now, ground has been broken on Riverside Village at Hammond’s Ferry, a new name to reflect that it’s more than a ballpark.

About 200 people turned out for the ceremony. The storm clouds of the last two days parted, but guests had to tread carefully to keep their shoes free of red clay mud.

Jeff Eiseman, the Augusta GreenJackets co-owner, jokingly thanked the Brasfield and Gorrie construction crew for “the lazy river behind home plate.”

Chris Schoen, of master developer Greenstone Properties, said the stadium would be ready on time in April. He said the B&G crew that just finished the new Atlanta Braves stadium was bringing their expertise to North Augusta.

“We’ve got their A team,” he said. “We will be ready.”

Eiseman touted the team’s new website, greenjackets2018.com, which lets visitors see the view from seats in any particular section and buy those tickets.

For example, if you want season tickets behind home plate, in Section 100, Row D, it’ll cost $760 per seat – about $11 per home game if the team plays 70 home games in 2018 as it will in 2017.

The turnout included new Mayor Bob Pettit and former Mayor Lark Jones, who led the project through five years of efforts to derail it, including a lawsuit that took two years to wind its way through the courts and ultimately was decided in the city’s favor by the state Supreme Court.

Jones gave the invocation at the start of the ceremony, thanking God for “the people who brought us to this day,” and asking blessing for “those who have much work still to be done.”

Pettit declared that “the hard work of spring training is over … Play ball!”

Pettit praised City Administrator Todd Glover for his work over the last five years, as did Schoen, who said “Todd is really the one who got the vision.”

Schoen called attention to the mixed-use nature of the development, which will include a hotel/conference center, offices, apartments, single-family housing and retail. He said the finished Riverside Village would be a regional draw, luring 300,000 to 500,000 people a year, with baseball as a catalyst.

Pat O’Conner, president of Minor League Baseball, said it would be “a game-changer,” a place where people would live, work and play next to the “magical” Savannah River.

Minor League Baseball has opened a new stadium every year since 1987, he noted.

“You’re in for something really, really special,” he said.

Bobby Evans, the general manager of the San Francisco Giants – the GreenJackets’ Major League parent club – said Eiseman and Schoen “have been great partners for us,” and talked about how the organization values its South Atlantic League franchise.

The GreenJackets have a history of producing top-tier talent, including Madison Bumgarner and Moises Alou.

North Augusta’s partners in Riverside Village were also on hand. Aiken County Council and Public School District had to agree to the city’s Tax-Increment Financing plan or the development likely would never have made it past the idea stage.

Councilman Chuck Smith and Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford were there for the groundbreaking, along with state Rep. Bill Hixon and state Sen. Tom Young, who represent the area in the legislature.

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

 

A former executive with the National Cyber Research Park said the Augusta region has the potential to turn its cyber assets into a $1 billion-a-year industry.

G.B. Cazes, former vice president for the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, La., the anchor facility for the 3,000-acre national research campus, said the Augusta area is “well on its way” to being an international center of cyber education, operations and research and development.

The part-time consultant for the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon was one of several people to brief the Georgia Department of Economic Development on the progress of the “Fort Gordon Cyber District” during the department’s board of directors meeting Wednesday in Augusta.

“I think this seven-county region is going to look quite different 20 years from now in terms of the types of jobs it has,” Cazes said in an interview following the panel discussion, which included presentations from Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Todd Turner, Augusta University Provost Gretchen Caughman and Unisys Vice President Jennifer Napper.

Cazes, president of Metova Solutions, a provider of military-grade cyber training and hardware, likened metro Augusta’s economic connection to Fort Gordon with Huntsville, Ala.’s linkage to the Army’s Redstone Arsenal. He said Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park, the second-largest research park behind North Carolina’s Research Triangle, has the highest concentration of Ph.Ds in the country.

“They are what most communities want to have,” he said. “The economic impact of that research park is over $1 billion. You could have a similar effect here. Your trajectory could be very, very steep.”

The Cyber Innovation Center that Cazes was affiliated with is analogous to the 159,000-square-foot Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center the Georgia Technology Authority is building on the AU Riverfront Campus.

The Fort Gordon Cyber District is the regional moniker local economic development officials are using to promote the two-state metro area as a hub of cybersecurity innovation. Last month a Fortune magazine article named Augusta and Atlanta as two of the “7 Cities That Could Become the World’s Cybersecurity Capital.”

Turner said the base’s 27,000-strong workforce is going to increase as other federal agencies and private contractors seek proximity to Army Cyber Command, which is being relocated from Fort Meade, Md. Construction of the command headquarters and other upgrades at the post are consuming two-thirds of the Army’s entire construction budget.

Turner said the 56,000-acre facility’s 21st century missions, coupled with its utility infrastructure and land availability, make it a candidate to take on non-cyber missions – up to and including airborne and light vehicle operations – if Congress were to reactivate Base Realignment and Closure committees.

“If we ever do go into another BRAC cycle, we have the ability to actually absorb folks that maybe transfer in from other installations,” he told board members.

Caughman noted the university’s $6 million investment to create its Cyber Institute as well as the “Degree Completion Initiative” it launched in January for Department of Defense employees and active-duty service members.

“We are very proud of our military-friendly designation,” she said. “…We believe that we have an imperative to serve those individuals as they have served us and our country.”

Napper, the Unisys executive, will be moving this year from Washington, D.C., to Augusta, where she retired more than three years ago as major general of the Network Enterprise Technology Command.

She told the board Unisys is gearing up to employ 700 in Augusta but has room for up to 1,200. The reason the global IT firm chose the city for its service center and base of cybersecurity operations, she said, was because of the warm reception it received from the business community.

“At the end of the day, it was about the people,” she said. “It’s the people of Georgia who make a difference.”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Damon Cline/Business Editor