While cybersecurity has taken center stage in Federal news, with Rudy Giuliani and retired Marine Gen. John Kelly both stressing the emphasis the incoming Trump administration will have on cybersecurity, state governments are also tackling the issue.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday announced $50 million in funding to the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center. The state-owned center, located in Augusta, will bring together academia, private industry, and government to  establish cybersecurity standards, best practices, and protocols for responding to cyber threats across state and local agencies.

“The protection of Georgia’s citizens, businesses and institutions in the digital realm is becoming significantly more necessary as cybercrime continues to grow,” said Deal. “Building on our efforts to keep Georgia safe and maintain its status as the No. 1 state in which to do business, we are taking action to ensure that Georgia leads the way on cybersecurity.”

The sate hopes that the center will advance the field of information security with vulnerability research, as well as improve reliable and effective practices. The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center will focus on training, education, research, and development, as well as act as an incubator for cybersecurity startups. The center will house multiple universities and private industries and the hope is to challenge security pros and systems in a safe and controlled environment to better prepare for actual cyber threats.

“This will distinguish Georgia as the national leader in this arena. We look forward to working with our state leaders in securing the funding for this opportunity,” said House Speaker David Ralston.

The $50 million in funding for the center includes $41.5 million for construction, $2.1 million for staffing, $1.8 million for planning, design, utilities, and marketing and $4.6 million to cover staff and operating costs until the building is fully leased.

The center will also require close collaboration among Georgia’s universities, government agencies, and private businesses. The Georgia Technology Authority will partner with entities, including the University System of Georgia, the Augusta University Cyber Institute, the Technical College System of Georgia, local school systems, the Georgia National Guard, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Federal agencies and private corporations in the establishment of the facility.

“We have a tremendous opportunity as a state to leverage our resources with our research institutions and military bases, and this collaborative initiative will result in a better trained and equipped cyber force,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

The center received praised from Federal entities as well, including the National Security Agency (NSA).

“The Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center will allow our best and brightest, from both the public and private sector, to develop critical relationships in an innovative and collaborative training environment. We laud Governor Deal’s strategic vision and decision to build the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta. This location takes full advantage of NSA’s growing relationship with Augusta University, as well as the Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence on Fort Gordon, and Army Cyber Command in the near future,” said the NSA in a statement.

For more information on the center, view the state of Georgia’s fact sheet here.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs