Thursday, June 20, 2024

Spohn: New year means new leadership at the CIC

by BIZ Magazine

The past year saw the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) continue to spur growth in north Louisiana. CIC and its partners are blessed to have wrapped up year 15 of diversifying the local economy by building a new, knowledge-based industry. 

As the anchor of the National Cyber Research Park (NCRP), CIC works with our partners in higher education and industry to build a knowledge-based workforce that improves the quality of life for our region. Since 2011, the NCRP has averaged more than 1,000 jobs per year, brought in more than $1 Billion for parish residents, and generated more than $1 Billion in new sales. We celebrated in October the opening of our fourth, and newest, building in the Louisiana Tech Research Institute.

I have been blessed to witness firsthand this tremendous success and growth for not only the CIC, but the NCRP and region as a whole. It’s why I feel comfortable stepping aside to let a new, but familiar set of hands build upon the foundation I helped lay. 

Kevin Nolten will assume the president’s role at the start of 2024. Kevin has been a part of the CIC since 2014 and has served in several capacities – Director of Academic Outreach for 2 years, Director of CYBER.ORG for 5 years, and most recently as Vice President for 2 years. As a native of northwest Louisiana, has spent his entire career in education, training, and workforce development with a variety of focus areas to include K-12 and Higher Education. His expertise in workforce development has been sought after by both state and federal governments to advance cybersecurity knowledge and economic development.

I have worked closely with Kevin for more than a decade, and I know his passion for our mission and his dedication to helping improve the community. He has my absolute faith that he will continue to grow not only our efforts of workforce development in the NCRP, but aiding innovation in Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) with STRIKEWERX and meeting the nation’s cybersecurity needs via the work of CYBER.ORG.

These efforts are on solid ground with CYBER.ORG and STRIKEWERX both receiving in October five-years of funding. CYBER.ORG received a grant worth $34 million from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and STRIKEWERX received $95.6 million in funding through a five-year Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) with AFGSC. 

From a quarter of a billion-dollar impact on the Air Force to 30,000 teachers from all 50 states having access to cybersecurity curriculum, STRIKEWERX and CYBER.ORG prove Louisiana and northwest Louisiana are dedicated to advancing research, education, and technological innovation for the nation.

As this transition begins and the new year dawns, I can’t help but reflect on the journey to change our corner of the state by growing the local economy and diversifying the regional workforce. It is a journey that has required a long-term investment by CIC and NCRP partners, city and parish officials, the State of Louisiana, and our Congressional Delegation. It required a lot of demanding work by these same people and will require more in the future. 

Our mission to enrich the lives of those in northwest Louisiana is ongoing. It’s one that I know Kevin, our team at the CIC, and our supporters across the country will continue to embrace and excel.

Craig Spohn is executive director/president of the Cyber Innovation Center

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