Editorial: Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
By Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff
No, it’s the area’s economy, flying faster than the speed of soundbytes.
Occasionally folks will report hearing mysterious “booms” in their area. The media often have no answers.
This particular boom, though, is no mystery, though it’s hard for the media to keep up: Augusta’s economy is starting to fly faster than the speed of sound bites.
Jet-propelled by the explosion in cyber-related activity here – ignited by the Pentagon’s historic decision to locate the national Army Cyber Command at nearby Fort Gordon – the area’s business climate is perhaps as dynamic as we’ve ever seen.
In a Thanksgiving-themed column on The Chronicle’s Business page Sunday, Dr. Richard M. Franza, dean of Augusta University’s James M. Hull College of Business, laid out beautifully the many high points the area is reaching, or building the foundation for, including:
The investment in cybersecurity made by the federal government at Fort Gordon and the state government in the new Georgia Cyber Training and Innovation Center.
The new GreenJackets baseball stadium and multi-use development around it in North Augusta that will be both an economic and social stimulus.
The revitalization of downtown Augusta with its many restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that will continue to stimulate economic growth and attract more millennials to town.
The expanding manufacturing base in Augusta, including the continuing growth profile of Textron Specialized Vehicles, the bigger footprint of Starbucks and newcomers such as EdenCrete.
Business/community partnerships such as (Textron Specialized Vehicles’) “Reaching Potential through Manufacturing” program with the Richmond County School System to help students complete their high-school diplomas and provide them with manufacturing skills for future careers.
The burgeoning start-up community in Augusta, led by The Clubhou.se and soon to be joined by the Augusta Innovation Zone and the incubation space within the Georgia Cyber Training and Innovation Center.
The investment of EDTS and Cape Augusta in the new Augusta Cyberworks facility at Sibley Mill, portending the future impact of cybersecurity on Augusta.
These are just the highlights, exquisitely spelled out by Dr. Franza – a former senior associate dean of the College of Business at Kennesaw State University who must feel as if he landed in a whirlwind of verve and vitality when he came to Augusta in February.
All of that – plus the column he wrote for Sunday’s Business page – was prior to the latest news this week: that the $60 million Georgia Cyber Training and Innovation Center now under construction on Augusta’s downtown riverfront is already being expanded.
Before it’s even finished. Not even six months into its construction.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday a $35 million Phase II addition to the cyber center, which will be an incubator for technology startups, as well as provide training space for state cybersecurity initiatives and workforce development programs.
They’re not fooling around, either: Phase I is set to open next July, with Phase II expected to be finished by the end of next year.
Feel the boom?
Fort Gordon Cyber District
Represents a two-state, seven-county regional economic development and attraction initiative that supports defense and private sector technology innovation and growth.
Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center
The regional medical center serving the Southeastern U.S and Puerto Rico.
Headquarters for the US Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon.
Fort Gordon was recently redesignated the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence.