Press Release

SW Ohio Cyber Initiative Receives Federal Award

Greater Cincinnati and Dayton collaborate on cyber education and workforce development

DAYTON/CINCINNATI (September 21, 2016) – The greater Cincinnati-Dayton region is one of five recipients of a regional alliance grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The five grants, as part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), total nearly $1 million are to take a community approach to addressing the nation’s shortage of skilled cybersecurity employees.

Working collaboratively with the Dayton Development Coalition, the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) submitted a NIST proposal on behalf of a cyber alliance of lead partners in higher education, economic development, industry, government, and K-12 (see accompanying Cyber Alliance Lead Partners document). The alliance has been awarded $198,759 in project funding to advance partnerships that increase the pipeline of students pursuing cybersecurity careers, help more Americans attain the skills they need for well-paying jobs in cybersecurity, and support local economic development to stimulate job growth.

“The funding will advance a regional alliance to stimulate cybersecurity education and workforce development,” said Sean Joseph Creighton, president of SOCHE. “This award illustrates the power of collaboration in our region as over 20 partners contributed to the project proposal,” added Creighton. “In addition, the need to accelerate the growth of a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce for both government and private industry is increasingly one of our nation’s most urgent and highest priorities, and we are prepared to do so with so many wonderful colleges and universities in our region.”

According to NICE, cybersecurity is a major growth area for the economy. A 2015 analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Stanford University’s Peninsula Press found that there were more than 209,000 unfilled jobs in the United States, and the number of job postings had risen 74 percent in the previous five years. Ohio is working to be part of that expected growth. Both the Dayton Development Coalition and the Regional Economic Development Initiative Cincinnati agreed with NICE that cybersecurity will be one of the top growth areas for the regional economy.

“Southwestern Ohio has already emerged as a leader in cybersecurity, and this designation represents a tremendous opportunity to leverage the efforts of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, educational institutions, and the commercial sector within the Cincinnati-Dayton Region,” said Maurice McDonald, the Dayton Development Coalition’s executive vice president for aerospace and defense. “The NICE grant and regional alliance program will help ensure our region is strategically positioned to support this growing industry and build a strong foundation for Cybersecurity for years to come.”

The initiative will help coordinate with Cincinnati’s large and diverse commercial sector, Dayton’s commercial sector, and Dayton’s large and prominent Department of Defense industry. It will provide a rich environment for higher education to address the complex workforce demands of cybersecurity.The scope of work includes a series of carefully assessed “proof of concept” projects. The goal will be to determine which projects produce the greatest benefits and thus, will be scaled to a region-wide implementation after the pilot phase. NIST funding will provide the critical resources to support and accelerate the regional alliance.

Ted Griffith, managing director for JobsOhio, supported the SOCHE proposal, saying in his letter of support, “One of JobsOhio’s strategic goals in the information technology sector explicitly relates to cybersecurity. A necessary underpinning for both parts of our strategy to succeed is cyber talent relevant to all Ohio industries.”Additionally, Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and Representatives Mike Turner and Warren Davidson each provided written support for southwest Ohio’s cyber initiative.