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Augusta already a cyber hub, study shows

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With a fast-growing, highly-paid cyber workforce, Augusta has already become an innovation hub for cyber, according to a study by the Cyber Institute and the Master of Public Administration

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Augusta’s future in cyber is now and the area is already considered a cyber hub, according to a new study by Augusta University’s Master of Public Administration program and the Cyber Institute.

With 12,716 cyber-related and information technology workers in the Augusta metro area, the workforce is estimated to be 5.3 percent of the total workforce. The annual wage for IT and cyber-related workers averages $72,000, but the annual wage for cyber-related workers alone averages $97,000. Fort Gordon employs almost 10,000 information technology and cyber-related workers.

“This high concentration of highly-trained, well-paid cyber-related workers tells us that Augusta has already fulfilled the prediction that it would become an innovation hub for cyber,” said Dr. William Hatcher, director of the Master of Public Administration program and one of the three researchers who conducted the study. “The numbers for the future also show that Fortune magazine was probably right when it named Augusta as one of the seven possible cybersecurity capitals in the world.”

Employers who participated in the survey expect to grow their cyber-related workforce by 138 percent in the next five years, pumping more than $400 million into the local economy just from salaries for the new positions. Most of these jobs will not be outsourced and will stay in the Augusta area, contributing to the local economy. This growth will be in addition to the cyber-related positions added at Fort Gordon and new businesses coming to the area.

“To feed this type of rapid growth, innovation hubs usually need the expertise of a research and education institution to push innovation forward and train current and future workers,” said Dr. Wesley Meares, assistant professor of public administration and one of the researchers involved in the study. “We found in our study that Augusta University is positioned to be the center of education and at the center of research for the cyber hub that Augusta has become.”

The businesses, nonprofits and local government agencies surveyed want their current and future cyber workforce to hold a bachelor’s degree and even a master’s degree in information technology or computer science, according to the study.

“Our findings make it clear the important role Augusta University will play in fueling this cyber growth with highly-skilled workers,” said Dr. Mark Harris, director of graduate studies in information security management and the researcher who created the survey. “As a professor, it is great that I can teach my students the skills they will need for the real world and at the same time help my community grow.”

The researchers plan on conducting the survey yearly and start tracking the number of new businesses that come to the Augusta area — something they call the spillover effect of being a cyber hub.

About the author

Arthur Takahashi

Arthur Takahashi is Digital Media Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706–446–5128 or atakahashi@augusta.edu.