Bossier Chamber luncheon highlights cyber careers

Stacey Tinsley | BIZ. Magazine

The generation who will make up the next workforce got a taste of what lies ahead of them during a special luncheon last month.

The Education & Innovation Luncheon “Cultivating Generation Cyber,” was hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce Nov. 12 at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City.

The event featured guest speakers G.B. Cazes, founder of The Emory Group and previous vice president of the Cyber Innovation Center, and Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, the adjutant general for the Louisiana National Guard and co-chair of the Louisiana Cyber Commission. 

According to Cazes, software developer employees who live in the Ark-La-Tex are being hired by employers on the East and West Coasts because of higher salaries and the ability to work from home.

“In Arkansas, we are losing talent every day to the Coast employers. They are coming in and hiring our employees because they can make double their salaries and work from home,” said Cazes.

But, he did also note that even though local talent is being recruited away, staying, living, and working in the Bossier community is something employees should consider. That also extends to students who want to further their education in the cyber field.

Bossier Parish students get a VR tour at the Bossier Chamber’s Education & Innovation Luncheon held Nov. 12 at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City. (Courtesy photo)

“In this community you have amazing community colleges. BPCC has a nationally renowned cyber education program where you can go get an associates degree and then go next door and make good money. There are also other opportunities other than college if you should choose. You can go to a 90-day boot camp, learn how to code and walk into the work force and make $60,000 a year,” Cazes said. 

Prior to the event, attendees were able to visit vendor booths from higher education institutions like Louisiana Tech, Northwestern State University, LSU Shreveport and Bossier Parish Community College, as well as National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), Starbase 2.0, and EAP/NorLeap. These participants showcased the type of cyber technology and programming that each institution/entity offers.

Plain Dealing High School Senior Jennifer Langston is a three-time attendee of the Education & Innovation Luncheon, saying she has learned the importance of cyber security over the course of her attendance.

“I learned that we have to make sure that we are protected in the cyber world. That we, as students, are playing our part to protect the future,” she said.

Knowing this would be her last time attending the luncheon as a student, Langston also wanted to note that Bossier schools’ STEM programs gave her the idea of what career field to enter into. 

G.B. Cazes speaks at the The Education & Innovation Luncheon “Cultivating Generation Cyber” hosted by the Bossier Chamber of Commerce Nov. 12 at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City. (Stacey Tinsley/BIZ. Magazine)

“I want to say thank you to all of my past and present STEM teachers. Without them and the the STEM programs, I don’t know what I would be majoring in at college,” Langston said. “I’ve been in the STEM programs that are offered at my school since I was in middle school. If you are a student and are interested in science or math, I would recommend taking a STEM program class. It offers a lot of career opportunities.”

At the luncheon, the Bossier Innovates Foundation — a 501(c)3 nonprofit of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce that enhances the economic and social opportunities of northwest Louisiana through educational programs, workforce development, and collaborations with community partners — also awarded seven scholarships to Bossier and Caddo Parish seniors who have expressed an interest in a cyber-related field of study. Recipients were: Sonny Reed, Parkway High School; Dustin Smith, Haughton High School; Claire White, Byrd High School; Richard Salzer, Parkway High School; Trey Nichols, Benton High School; Shannon Mathers, Airline High School; and Seth Lamont, Airline High School.