The University of South Carolina Beaufort and partners have received a $1.3 million federal grant to develop programs at the South Coast Cyber Center with the aim of transforming Beaufort and the Lowcountry into a center of cybersecurity expertise.
“This grant will help us to define a pathway to create a strong and diverse cyber economy,” said South Coast Cyber Center Chairman Warren Parker. “We look forward to working with our partners in this unprecedented collaboration.”
The US Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation awarded the grant to the non-profit South Coast Cyber Center, which is a partnership among the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB), Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL), Beaufort Digital Corridor, City of Beaufort and Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation, along with business leaders.
USCB Chancellor Dr. Al M. Panu hailed the grant as “a great start toward building a cyber economy by leveraging our strengths as well as our unique partnership with the military here in Beaufort and the region.” TCL President Dr. Richard Gough stated, “As we discuss the grant and what it can do for Beaufort, we have found the cybersecurity community to be very supportive and excited at the prospects.” Beaufort Digital Corridor Chairman Kevin Klingler, added “This grant will allow us to deploy established technology development processes to attract cyber talent and create cybersecurity startups in Beaufort.”
The South Coast Cyber Center aims to help recent graduates, exiting military personnel, and members of the local community attain high-paying jobs by delivering affordable and relevant cybersecurity education and training. Cybersecurity professionals are in demand because protecting computer systems, networks and sensitive data from digital attacks has become a priority for government facilities, and various organizations and businesses. Careers in the cybersecurity industry can pay six figures, and jobs in information security are expected to grow 32 percent for the 10-year period through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A shortage of qualified workers left about 300,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. unfulfilled last year, according to industry estimates.
As the primary grant recipient, USCB will work closely with its co-recipients — to develop the South Coast Cyber Center’s faculty, curriculum, technology, and facilities. A key goal for the grant is to establish both the Technical College of the Lowcountry and the University of South Carolina Beaufort as Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) through certification of these respective institutions’ two-year and four-year cybersecurity programs by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The Beaufort Digital Corridor, a technology incubator in downtown Beaufort, plans to offer cybersecurity mentoring for startups and community bootcamps to teach related skills.
Local officials see the South Coast Cyber Center as a focal point for advancement in the region.
“This grant will help in attracting and recruiting cyber and technical business and providing transitioning military personnel with opportunities for education and work right here in the Beaufort region,” said John O’Toole, executive director of the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation.
Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray looks forward to gathering input from local and state government, educational institutions, military officials, local business leaders and professional cybersecurity organizations.
“The grant will allow work to begin on the community’s first-ever regional cybersecurity strategic plan,” he said.