State to build cyber-security facility on Augusta riverfront

AUGUSTA (WJBF) — Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced that a $50 million cyber-security center will be built in downtown Augusta.

The “Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center” will be located on the old Golf and Gardens property and next to the future Augusta University Riverfront Campus.

In his “State of the State” address today, the Governor said he wants Augusta to be the “Silicon Valley of the South.”

With the announcement of this state-owned facility, the military, the state, the city, AU and private companies will all be working together to protect us from cyber attacks.

“We have a chance for Georgia and specifically, Augusta, to become the cyber capital of the United States, if not, the World,” University President Dr. Brooks Keel said.

The facility will have a world-class cyber range.

“What this cyber range is is a safe environment where you can actually engage in cyber war. You can attack a computer and you can defend from an attack on the computer, so it’s a real life situation,” Keel said.

With hacking making the headlines a lot these days, state leaders want to get ahead of the problem before matters get worse.

“We don’t necessarily all know the impact, but when we start seeing what’s happening with the elections, I think people are beginning to realize, well, not saying it wasn’t serious before, but it actually impacts me as an individual,” Director of AU’s Cyber Institute Joanne Sexton said.

The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center will be the cyber hub for education, business and government.

The proposed 150,000 square-foot facility will also be the new home of Augusta University’s Cyber Institute.

School officials expect the place to be busy.

“Students, faculty, staff… an influx of additional personnel who are getting advanced training and additional training within the agencies of the state, private corporations, as well as businesses that may want to be incubated there,” Provost Gretchen Caughman said.

The cyber institute has already doubled its enrollment numbers and with this announcement, more growth is expected.

“This is another aspect of making sure folks across this country know that Georgia is what’s happening,” Keel said.

Construction on this facility is expected to start in the Spring. State officials say it should take about 18 months to complete.

As for the other parts of the university’s riverfront campus, school leaders say those plans have not been finalized. This facility will be the anchor of the project.

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