Blog: The Placemaking Factor: Cybersecurity in Focus

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Imagination was the cornerstone of James Rouse’s vision for Columbia in the 1960s, and Howard County makes good on his legacy, creating communities that package work and play in a prime setting. Howard County’s allure as one the best, healthiest, and most innovative municipalities in America is well-established, courtesy of the cybersecurity assets seeded throughout our community.

Set near the nexus of federal agencies and military installations, Howard County is a hotbed for cyber. Home to more than 150 cyber-related businesses, Howard County has a quality of place that draws firms and a broad base of talent. A quick drive to NSA headquarters puts employment and contracting opportunities in clear focus.

“In Howard County, we have the ecosystem in place versus industry clusters that must be built out of thin air. We have it, we foster it, and we don’t have to manufacture a cluster. The cybersecurity industry is already here,” observed Larry Twele, CEO of HCEDA.

This ecosystem–of companies, talent, and workforce development assets–isn’t only in place, it’s expanding by leaps and bounds. From the AI labs of IntelliGenesis in Columbia Gateway to the Tenable headquarters in downtown Columbia, the interplay of community, proximity, and amenities are wins for companies that want to be where talent lives. Within these hives of discovery, being where talent lives is one part of the story. Companies like the women-owned Resolute Technologies and Sonatype create workplace cultures and progression paths that make employees want to stay.

The reimagining of Downtown Columbia into a mixed-use, walkable urban marvel by the Howard Hughes Corporation is piquing the interest of an up-and-coming talent pool. To this point, Columbia recently secured the best place to rent on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst Places to Rent in America” list. The ability to access scale up support at the Maryland Innovation Center, walk from home to the office, catch a concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion, or grab a bite at the lakefront make Howard County a talent magnet. Rouse’s vision of a self-sustaining place to live and achieve is being realized, yet again.

The demand for qualified cybersecurity talent outweighs the supply throughout the United States, but local workforce development initiatives are creative and effective. Howard Community College’s Early College: Cybersecurity Program allows ninth grade students to embark on cybersecurity careers, earning approximately 30 college credits upon completion of high school. Interview preparations, internships, and an accelerated track to certifications grow the talent pipeline. The AT&T Catapult Program is a paid apprenticeship program offered at Howard Community College. The program provides targeted educational tracks to support the company’s immediate and future cybersecurity needs. AT&T apprentices work in high-growth positions while applying for security clearances. Once clearance is achieved, job prospects at AT&T and within the cybersecurity field open wide.

Ingenuity is the heartbeat of every successful initiative. Howard County’s location, lifestyle, employers, and educational partners shape a cybersecurity culture that’s imaginative and energetic.

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