Economic and Workforce Development Resources for Coal Communities through POWER Initiative
Southwest Virginia Community College, recently received $1.42 million dollars from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and $258,790 from the Virginia Tobacco Commission for a new Cybersecurity initiative. The ARC award was the latest in the POWER Initiative’s “POWER 2016” funding opportunity that invests in economic revitalization and workforce training in coal communities across the country. The POWER awards, totaling $28 million, are sponsored by President Obama’s administration and are administered by ARC and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).
The Virginia Tobacco Commission grant award will provide matching funds in support of the initiative.
The much-needed cybersecurity initiative focuses on three goals: 1) Strengthen workforce development in SWVA for the cybersecurity industry; 2) Recruit new cybersecurity industry to the region; and 3) Provide support services to cybersecurity start-up companies relocating to the region.
“Southwest Virginia Community College is proud to be a part of a consortium to provide training to expand opportunities in cybersecurity. SWCC has a proven track record of being an integral part of transforming the local economy when they partnered with area southwest colleges several years ago to deliver a Fast Track Software development program for CGI,” said Dr. Barbara Fuller, vice president of academic and student success. She continued, “It’s that type of innovative spirit which will embrace this new cybersecurity training opportunity. According to Governor Terry McAuliffe, there are 17,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in Virginia with average salaries of $88,000. Most of these jobs don’t require four year degrees, therefore it positions the community colleges to provide training opportunities for individuals interested in a career in cybersecurity.”
Southwest Virginia Community and Mountain Empire Community Colleges will provide cybersecurity certificate training programs to meet the needs of the region’s business and industry, in accordance with the National Security Agency’s guidelines. SWCC and MECC plan to pursue certification by the federal government for cybersecurity education through the Academic Centers of Excellence program, as recommended by Virginia’s Governor Terry McAuliffe. In addition, UVA-Wise will expand their bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and seeks to attract start-up companies through an accelerator space (The Oxbow Center).
“As a result of this grant program, we will seek to become certified as a Center of Excellence through the National Security Agency and the region will be able to promote itself to potential new employers as ‘cybersecurity job-ready.’ Because cybersecurity jobs rely on the Internet, they are less location-constrained than most jobs. This is a strategy that could help to overcome the geographic challenges that make other types of job diversification problematic,” said Phyllis Roberts, grants administrator.