If you have lived in Augusta,GA for any period of time, then you know that Augusta is going through a change. A big change.
The town has been through change before, this is nothing new. After the American Civil War, for example, the population of Augusta went from 5,000 to 50,000 very quickly. Back then, the influx of people was due to the fact that Augusta was one of the few cities that had escaped relatively unscathed in the South after the war.
Yet another change for Augusta was the introduction of Plant Vogtle. This employer provided jobs for the locals for many decades and helped to build a solid middle class in Augusta.
…And now change has come to Augusta again.
Change Comes To Augusta Again
In December of 2013, the Army announced that the Cyber Center of Excellence would be established at Fort Gordon.
This most recent addition is going to be a grand slam for Augusta. I speak with local business leaders on a daily basis and the consensus is that this change is well underway.
We are seeing companies move to town and they are bringing jobs. Most of these new jobs are for individuals who have a special set of cyber skills, and this will grow to accommodate different kinds of jobs as we move through the business cycle.
The Business Cycle
We are going through a business cycle in Augusta. Let’s consider the announcement of the Cyber Center of Excellence in 2013 as the beginning of the cycle. These things have to go in order, you can’t skip any of them and expect this to work to full potential.
- 1. The Cyber Center of Excellence is Announced
- 2. Cyber Education is Established In The Schools
- 3. Cyber Companies Move A Small Team To Town
- 4. Cyber Companies Move Their Entire Operation To Town
- 5. Startup Businesses Are Developed In The Community
- 6. Massive Growth For Augusta In All Areas
As of the writing of this article, we are at step 3: Cyber Companies Move A Small Team To Town. Step 4 is the hard part and will either make it or break it for Augusta.
Most of the employees from these cyber companies can get a job making six figures anywhere in the world. This does not tend to encourage people to start a risky startup business (Step 5).
After all, why risk everything when you can make a very solid income working for someone else? The answer is simple, the American dream. There will always be a certain percentage of people who want to start a small business and become their own boss. The reward is HUGE if you are successful.
If you can start and successfully scale a cyber security product or service, you can make millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars.
I see three types of people going into this area:
- 1. Young people who have nothing to lose.
- 2. Military retirees (40 years of age) who have earned a good retirement from their service to the country. We love these people. They understand sacrifice and determination. These people are awesome!
- 3. People who have worked for a large cyber company, gained experience and are crazy enough (or have enough foresight) to start a small business and forgo the 6 figure salary.
If you fall into any of these categories and want to start a CyberSecurity company, I want to meet you! To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be intelligent, have unstoppable drive mixed with just a little bit of crazy. I like these types of people.
Home Run VS Grand Slam
HOME RUN: If the local business community continues to grow with regards to cyber like it has done over the past 24 – 36 months, then we as a community will hit a cyber home run.
While companies moving to town to service Fort Gordon is certainly a good thing, it does not come close to achieving the success that Augusta can reach if we create, develop and support startups and other small businesses in the cyber and tech community. Instead of large companies creating a satellite location in Augusta, growing the business startup and cyber research community will make businesses want to move their entire operation to Augusta.
GRAND SLAM: We will hit a grand slam if we get all the way through the cycle. This will create more than just contract jobs that service Fort Gordon, this will create jobs for a whole host of professions that will include:
- Marketing Firms
- Restaurants in Downtown
- Office Cleaning Services
- Legal Work
- Accounting Work
- Construction Work
- The Hot Dog Guy On The Corner
Again, the key to all of this growth is small business. If we are able to make it through the entire cycle and get a entrepreneurial ecosystem in place, the sky is the limit!
If we get the large businesses which service Fort Gordon to move their entire operations to town, there will be a human capital spin off which will create small businesses and startups. Combine this with the talent that Fort Gordon generates every month and the AU graduates, and you have a winning formula. This is the combination that will push Augusta into the future and make us the next Houston or Palo Alto.
Unfortunately, at this time, very few people focus on small business. Instead, they focus on the mid to large businesses.
I am meeting with a group of investors later this month that has laid the ground work in Atlanta for this exact formula of success 25 years ago. They built a small business engine which was unstoppable. While their model was tech based, ours will be cyber based.
Atlanta wants an inroad into Augusta and the startup scene. These are experienced people who already know what I am telling you now, they’ve already lived it. I am excited to be their conduit into Augusta. This is a win-win for all involved and a definite move in the right direction!
The Keys To Success
We have got to expand and start thinking globally. Our small business startups need to have global customers. Here is what I think we need to succeed in the long run:
- CyberSecurity Incubator
- CyberSecurity Accelerator
- Angel Investors
- Mentors + Coaches
- People Willing To Take Risk
- Support For The YPA
- A Regional Brand: Cyber District
These are the keys to success in my opinion. If we make it through the entire cycle and implement these things, Augusta will be transformed into the Cyber Security Capital of The World!