Column: Alliance for Fort Gordon recalls accomplishments of the last year

SPECIAL Alliance for Fort Gordon Executive Director Dr. Tom Clark stands in front of a graphic representation of the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Center for Innovation and Training. The mission of the Alliance is to promote, coordinate, and advocate for the Fort Gordon Cyber District.

The year 2017 was an outstanding one for Fort Gordon and the Alliance for Fort Gordon.

 

In 2003, the Alliance for Fort Gordon was established to advocate for Fort Gordon and protect the community’s interest during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure. After successfully completing its mission, the Alliance was able to identify new initiatives to further Fort Gordon’s positive impact on the community.

In 2016, after evaluating the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, the Alliance evolved its mission to promote, coordinate and advocate for the Fort Gordon Cyber District, to stimulate investment in cyber growth, and to capitalize on opportunities for the benefit of all.

The Alliance’s new vision statement, established in 2016, is to serve as the lead organization in the establishment of the Fort Gordon Cyber District as the nationally recognized destination for cyber work, life and play by 2020.

 

In 2017, the Alliance implemented a multi-faceted approach to ensure a successful implementation of our new mission and vision. The Alliance sought to brand the CSRA region to attract nationwide attention. Leveraging many of the regional assets within the CSRA, and the announcement of the U.S. Army Cyber Command relocation to the region, the Fort Gordon Cyber District was created and officially announced at the Augusta TechNet conference in August 2017.

The Alliance’s plan capitalizes on cyber attributes currently residing in the region, as well as those being relocated.

The approach began with marketing the region for work-live-learn-play qualities within the Cyber District, and promotes and creates a regional innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, develops an experienced and talented local workforce in cyber and IT related fields, organically grows a knowledge-based workforce through educational advancement in cyber starting in K12 institutions, as well as advocates with local, state and federal assets to bring awareness to the district.

To further support a national brand and increase local awareness, the Alliance has implemented a robust marketing and communications plan. Creating the world class FortGordonCyberDistrict.com website provides a single platform to promote the various qualities the region has to offer for work-live-learn-play.

In addition, the Alliance deployed social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. The Cyber District can be followed at Fort Gordon Cyber District on Facebook and LinkedIn and @CyberDistrictFG on Twitter and Instagram.

Over the past 12 months, the Alliance for Fort Gordon has made tremendous strides toward achieving its vision of establishing the Fort Gordon Cyber District as a nationally recognized destination for cyber live, work, learn and play by 2020.

 

Several key accomplishments include:

Launched FortGordonCyberDistrict.com – a website that showcases the live, work, learn and play aspects of the region and connects visitors directly to key resources.

Published the Cyber District Booklet – a 32-page information booklet highlighting the region’s high quality of life and its tremendous assets.

Hosted Cyber Education Programs – more than 1,000 hours of professional development for local teachers – and increased participation in cybersecurity defense competitions by more than 800 percent.

Hosted Entrepreneur &Innovation Programs, partnering with national experts to stimulate growth of an entrepreneur and innovation ecosystem in the Cyber District. Hosted numerous events and gave out more than $4,000 to local entrepreneurs.

 

Serving as the catalyst to build a world-class cyber workforce with superior cyber capabilities for the region and the state of Georgia, the Alliance will continue to promote, coordinate and advocate for the “Fort Gordon Cyber District.” These efforts will bring awareness, stimulate investment, and allow the region to capitalize on the opportunities that will ensure transformational change in our region.

While 2017 was a great year for the Alliance, its partners and the Cyber District, there is still much work to be done. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make an investment that will positively impact future generations to come. Please help the Alliance by investing in the Fort Gordon Cyber District and our future.

The Alliance for Fort Gordon and The Clubhou.se have executed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate, promote and foster an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Alliance has hosted multiple pitch contests since August 2017, including the G60 pitch contest and IdeaFame Live. To date, the Alliance has hosted more than 150 attendees and more than 45 pitch ideas by local startups with $4,000 in prize money awarded.

Starting Dec. 14, 2017, the Alliance has been hosting quarterly training programs called Veteran Venture Leaders at Fort Gordon. The program has been established to provide lean startup best practices to transitioning military members who are considering or interested in starting small businesses in the region.

Understanding the shortcomings in the region to support the current needs and future needs of a cyber workforce talent pool, the Alliance has established a Workforce Committee to address the demands within the region. The Workforce Committee is actively creating and implementing multiple programs to identify the requisite training requirements and road map for our future cyber employees.

In conjunction with workforce development the Alliance is promoting the advancement of cyber education throughout the region, starting with K12 programs. Understanding the budget constraints within public education system, the Alliance is introducing low- to no-cost programs aimed at training our region’s students and educators.

The Alliance’s approach has made an immediate impact throughout the Cyber District. Introducing a unique educational approach and curriculum from the National Integrated Cyber Education and Research Center, the Alliance has become the leading organization in delivering cyber education to our future cyber experts.

 

Through its efforts, the Alliance has been able to coordinate over 900 free professional development hours to over 150 educators in the Cyber District. In addition to professional development, NICERC and the Alliance have provided more than $5,000 in materials to foster programs within the district. These materials include Arduino robots and other materials to support hands-on projects associated with the NICERC curriculum.

The week of June 4, the Fort Gordon Cyber District will host NICERC’s national annual conference, Education Discovery Forum. This event is expected to host more than 300 educators from across the nation, further promoting the Fort Gordon Cyber District as the next cyber hub in the nation.

In addition to the K12 NICERC program, the Alliance promoted Cyber Patriot, a cybersecurity program created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future. Last school year the CSRA was home to eight teams; this year, through the efforts of the Alliance to generate awareness and promote this program, the Fort Gordon Cyber District is home to over 80 teams, making up approximately 60 percent of the total Cyber Patriot teams in the state of Georgia.

 

As the Alliance continues to promote educational efforts throughout the region, local industry has become more involved. Firms such as Unisys have provided mentors and coaches for Cyber Patriot teams, providing after-hours support to ensure our students have the necessary support required to compete in state and national competition. In addition, multiple Fort Gordon brigades are providing mentorship to coaches and students through their Adopt-A-School program.

The Alliance for Fort Gordon serves as the catalyst for the Fort Gordon Cyber District to become a nationally recognized cyber center of excellence. The Alliance is proud to collaborate with local, state and federal public partners, as well as our private partners in the areas of economic development, academia, cyber security and local commerce.

At our core is a best-in-class relationship between the Alliance, Fort Gordon and our region.

This is largely attributable to the fact that we are a stand-alone organization, with this focus as its primary mission. Our efforts center on ensuring the success of the critical missions at Fort Gordon, knowing the increased importance of this military installation to our nation’s security. By 2020, the Fort Gordon Cyber District will be a nationally recognized destination for cyber work, life and play.

 

The writer is executive director of the Alliance for Fort Gordon.

 

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