Keel gets regional leadership award
Article originally posted on the Augusta Chronicle.
With community leaders from five area counties in attendance, Leadership Augusta on Thursday evening presented its inaugural Regional Leadership Award to Augusta University President Brooks Keel.
The Augusta native and head of the university since 2015 joked that he was undeserving of the award because he was “merely a cheerleader.”
“A cheerleader for a team of some 14,000 men and women who have dedicated their lives to providing an outstanding education for the sons and daughters of Georgia and beyond,” Keel said during the 2018 State of the Region event hosted in the Unisys auditorium.
“We’re on a two-way street,” he said. “Augusta University cannot be successful without Augusta and this surrounding area, and I firmly believe the CSRA cannot be successful without a good university.”
The event featured a panel of regional leaders discussing economic issues as well as Atlanta-based Tom Croteau, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, who said the Augusta region is in the enviable position of being able to recruit both heavy industry as well as high-tech jobs.
Croteau said the city’s Augusta Corporate Park property “is going to be seen” by any prospective industry looking for “250 or more” acres, while its military-fueled cyber industry will help attract information technology professionals.
“You don’t want to totally abandon your industrial development,” he said. “You just want to have a great balance because it all fits.”
Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. Todd Turner said Augusta’s schools are “trending up” but will need continued improvement to attract the military’s top cyber talent away from metro Washington, D.C. during the next seven years. He said Georgia’s schools last year were ranked No. 18 by U.S. News & World Report, compared to Virginia (No. 11) and Maryland (No. 1).
“The No. 1 first question I get from anybody coming to Fort Gordon is about the schools,” he said.
Unisys Chief Trust Officer Tom Patterson, who moved to Augusta from Silicon Valley to work at the company’s global security center in downtown Augusta, said the city has a major opportunity to be a leader in medical- and nuclear-related cybersecurity niches.
He said all the ingredients are here except critical mass.
“We have everything it takes – everything that I left in Silicon Valley, we either have or are well on track to build our version of that,” he said.