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.
Reach Joe Hotchkiss at (706) 823-3543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.