South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced the creation of an effort to develop a statewide cyber ecosystem. The state said the effort is “the first step in making South Carolina a highly competitive player in the cyber industry.”

During a press conference, McMaster said the initiative will begin with a study to inventory the state’s cyber assets, analyze key strengths and gaps, and form a development strategy. The end goal of the study is to determine the state’s existing cyber ecosystem, including verticals in education, investment, defense partnerships, workforce and industry development, and public awareness.

“This statewide cyber strategy is an opportunity to develop a cyber ecosystem that trains, attracts, and produces a workforce for the knowledge economy’s high-tech, high-paying jobs,” McMaster said. “Cyber professionals are in high demand, and through these efforts, we can make South Carolina one of the nation’s premier cyber hubs.”

The state intends to take advantage of its existing cyber assets, including the University of South Carolina (UofSC) system; Fort Gordon in nearby Augusta, Georgia, home to the U.S. Army Cyber Command and the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence; the Naval Information Warfare Center in Charleston; the Port of Charleston; and the recently announced Savannah River National Laboratory collaborative involving UofSC Columbia and UofSC Aiken.

Once the study is completed, the state will develop a plan to strengthen cyber capability and capacity through education and workforce development, which the state says will allow it to compete for valuable cyber assets, including workers, investors, and companies.

“The university looks forward to joining government and industry in this critical statewide effort,” UofSC President Bob Caslen said. “As South Carolina’s flagship university, we are uniquely positioned to help develop the future cyber workforce the state needs as well as inform stakeholders on emerging cyber research and best practices that impact security and the state’s economy.”

Looking towards the future, Bill Kirkland the executive director of UofSC’s Office of Innovation, Partnerships, and Economic Engagement, said the university plans to establish a Cyber Institute, which will combine outreach, education, research, and workforce development to support the state’s cyber strategy, said Bill Kirkland, executive director of UofSC’s Office of Innovation, Partnerships, and Economic Engagement.

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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