If you want to see the future of the Arklatex economy, come to the Cyber Innovation Center, and see it through the eyes of Craig Spohn, its Executive Director.
"At the foundational level, we are wanting to diversify the local economy," he says, as he sits in his office inside CIC and surveys the ten-thousand-acre campus, that includes Bossier Parish Community College, CSRA, and the soon-to-be-opened STEM center.
Tied for generations to the fortunes of the oil and gas industry and manufacturing, Spohn says Northern Louisiana is becoming known for its knowledge-based workforce - trained by teachers, trained at CIC.
"Now, we've got six-thousand teachers educated on our curriculum, and the result of that six-thousand teachers is we've got two-million students impacted," Spohn says.
Since breaking ground ten years ago, research conducted here at CIC has led to tech training programs for Louisiana's next generation.
"It's now ten years in, this month, that we started this,” Spohn says. “The education thing was one of the first thing out of the gate that we put together, because we had to figure out how to soberly answer what workforce was going to do cyber work in Louisiana. Now, we can proudly say we have produced the only organically grown, sustainable, systemic workforce in the country, that's going to continue to regenerate itself."
By the time they get to college, Bossier Parish Community College instructors are putting the final touches on a work force that's made-to-order for tech companies and the military. Dean of Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Sandra Partain says it’s all part of a master-plan for building a local workforce.
"Our partnerships in the private sector and with the military enable us to adapt to the needs of the employers and offer a curriculum that makes our students the perfect fit for their needs," she says.
"We're banging on easily ten-thousand jobs that are beginning to shape an I.T. corridor,” Spohn says, “a cyber corridor along this interstate that has never been known for a cyber workforce and cyber development."
The cyber innovation center's purpose goes beyond creating a few hundred new jobs for the next few years. Spohn says he sees it as a national model.
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