The issue: The National Cybersecurity Center needs a dedicated source of funding.
What we think: If we want to create cybersecurity jobs, the NCC needs to spend more time creating programs and less time raising money.
It’s time for state and national leaders to put their money where their mouths are.
For months, we’ve heard praise from Congressional leaders and state legislators about the National Cybersecurity Center and the city’s focus on cybersecurity as an economic engine and jobs generator.
The problem? Short of $8 million startup legislation from the state, the NCC hasn’t received any government funding — not a dime from the city or county, nothing from the state and no support from the Congress.
Instead, the NCC has had to raise it’s own funding from private sources, competing with the United States Olympic Museum, the Pikes Peak Summit House project, the Ent Center for the Performing Arts and the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences.
Follow the money — while there’s been a ton of financial support for every one of those projects, the NCC hasn’t received the same kind of state or local support other efforts have. And every one of those efforts is extremely important to the city. Each one on its own or taken together, stands to reshape Colorado Springs into a 21st-century city focused on health and arts and community. They are all valuable. And they are all necessary to the city’s future. But so is the NCC.
And the $8 million from the state of Colorado isn’t chump change — it got the NCC off to a great start. They have a new building, a location from which they can conduct secure research and train tomorrow’s workforce.
But it isn’t enough.
If we want to grow our cybersecurity sector and create jobs, the NCC needs more financial backing, particularly at the state and national levels. Otherwise, it becomes another organization dependent on grant funding to keep the doors open — and those funding sources aren’t stable enough to create a truly “national” cybersecurity center.
And a single $8 million shot-in-the-arm isn’t what keeps other cybersecurity centers open and operational. The Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC went to Washington, D.C. last week on its annual fly-in and were told the National Cybersecurity Center there receives $17 million in routine, promised, steady funding.
In 2017, there were 27 bills regarding cybersecurity funding in 14 states — all working to create the kind of economic engine we want to create in Colorado. In Colorado Springs, there is more work to be done, and more funds are needed to do it. The NCC has plans to open a cybersecurity research lab, a workforce training center, and both need money for equipment and to remain ahead of hackers who are always innovating.
It’s time for our state legislators and our Congressional leaders to work together, across the aisle, to provide stable funding for the NCC. The additional funds are needed to keep abreast of ever-changing and ever more sophisticated cyber threats, to work with colleges and universities to develop cybesecurity jobs and workforce programs.
The business sector has a role as well. Every business in southern Colorado has cybersecurity needs, even if not all of them are acting to protect their networks. Providing additional funding for the NCC will benefit the city’s economy in the long-run, but local business assets in the short-term.
It’s time to create a stable funding source for the NCC — augmented with grants — to develop a cybersecurity center that will become the jobs engine of the future.