Augusta Chamber Cyber Committee aims to help city prepare for industry

Published: Mar. 13, 2017 at 6:28 PM EDT
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News 12 First at Five/ Wednesday, March 13, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) --The Augusta Metro Chamber has a new cyber committee to help the city prepare for the cyber growth coming to Augusta. The cyber committee has been up and running for about one year now. They work together with Columbia County and North Augusta.

If you build it they will come. In Augusta's case they're building a cyber center, Army Cyber Command, and more private business. That means thousands of cyber employees are coming and soon.

"It's bringing a bigger wave of needs and demands that we probably don't fully understand even now," Charles Johnson said.

Johnson runs one of the many cyber companies that have already set up shop here, EDTS. His other focus is making the area ready for techies heading this way as the chairman of the Chamber's Cyber Committee.

"Bringing a higher educated workforce, meaning cyber and technology, they have higher demands for the education of their children," he said.

Brandon McCrillis is part of that workforce. After being stationed at Fort Gordon, he started his company Rendition Infosec here.

"With what's going on at Fort Gordon and Augusta University, we're really finding more talent in this industry than we had in years past," McCrillis said.

Helping develop a well trained work force is a big part of the cyber committee's focus. Training that starts in grade school and continues through college and beyond.

"My kids go to school in Columbia County, I've noticed just in the past six years more of a STEM focus, more of a technology focus. I don't think it's quite where it needs to be in terms of exponential growth, but I do think it's a step in the right direction," he said.

Attraction is the other key.

"As a community we need to develop our industry and we need to develop our cool factor," Johnson said.

But there's more work to be done.

"The status of Augusta as a technology mecca has really grown. If done correctly we will have the same status and the same acknowledgment as these cities around the country known for their technology base, but done poorly, we're going to be in trouble." he said.