Surge of Defense Contractors Attracted to Augusta

11/06/2014

Nearly a year after the Army announced plans to relocate its Cyber Command headquarters to Fort Gordon, the metro area continues to attract defense contractors related to the mission, even though it’s hard to peg just how many.

“There’s no recruiting the contractors,” said Thom Tuckey, the executive director for the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon. “We don’t have to invite them because they’re coming. We just don’t know when they’re coming.

“The area that we’re challenged with is getting our arms around the number of contractors because some of them don’t announce,” Tuckey said.“I’ve talked to a number of them, but because of the competitive nature, they’re not necessarily willing to share how many people they’re bringing or when they’re bringing them.”

Earlier Wednesday, Tuckey spoke at a Technology Association of Georgia conference that addressed the local impact of the Cyber Command at Fort Gordon and discussed steps local businesses can take to avoid data breaches. About 100 people attended the event, titled U.S. Army, Cyber Security and Business Against a Common Foe, and held on Georgia Regents University’s Summerville campus.

Tuckey listed contractors MacAuley-Brown, Sabre Systems, ViON Corp., Aski, Booz Allen and Raytheon as having announced new locations in Augusta or plans to expand since last December. The influx of people associated with those operations continues to generate additional housing activity for area realtors, he said.

“Any defense contractor that is in the cyber business is going to want to have a presence in the greater Augusta area,” Tuckey said. “This will be the center of Army cyber security.”

A 600,000-square-foot office project on National Science Center Foundation property near Gate 1 remains in the works, Tucker said.

Developers are waiting for contractors to sign on board so that they can properly retrofit the new facility, he said.

During his speech, Tuckey also spoke on transportation and education issues in the area that must be solved to meet the growth precipitated by 4,000 military-related jobs on base by 2019. Tuckey said he expects the Cyber Command relocation to bring at least 10,000 people into the community and create up to 16,000 jobs.

Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia, said he can see Augusta becoming a regional hub for information security companies, which will likely even the city’s playing field with Atlanta.

“Ultimately, people that are involved with cyber that work for the military, there will be a lot of ideation there and there will be spin-outs that will create more companies,” Mantella said. “I see what’s happening in Augusta as a real game-changer for both the cyber industry and also for Augusta.”

Source:The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Jenna Martin/Staff Writer