Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation Friday during a ceremony at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to allocate $7.93 million to renovate the former TRW manufacturing plant owned by the school into the home of the National Cyber Intelligence Center.
The center, a cybersecurity research, education and response facility, will open in about a year after renovations to the 135,000-square-foot building at 3650 N. Nevada Ave. are complete. A small office probably will be built first, so that the center can begin operations earlier, said Ed Anderson, a retired Army lieutenant general named in March as the center's interim executive director.
"This is the first step in long journey," Hickenlooper said after the ceremony. "Colorado Springs has a beachhead (in cybersecurity). We are now providing the resources to make Colorado Springs one of the top three, four or five cities in the nation for cybersecurity. We are not taking second place to anybody, we can establish Colorado Springs as the No. 1 cybersecurity city in the country."
Hickenlooper said research done at the center will bring companies to Colorado Springs that eventually could employ "tens of thousands" of employees.
Hickenlooper has championed the center, mentioning it in his State of the State address in January, along with Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak.
House Bill 1453, sponsored by Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and Sen. Ken Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, cleared the Colorado House April 29 by a 52-13 vote and was approved by the Colorado Senate five days later by a 30-5 vote. Hamner said last month that $6 million for the center is coming from the federal government and other funding is coming from private partnerships. Anderson said the center just received about $200,000 in funding from a private source, which he declined to disclose, that would help the nonprofit set up to operate the facility hire staff and begin operations.
The University of Colorado will have oversight of the funds, but the money would have to be spent at UCCS for "establishing and expanding cyber higher education programs and cyber education training laboratories and for establishing a secure environment for research and development," according to the bill.
The cyber intelligence center will include a Rapid Response Center to help businesses, nonprofits and government agencies combat and recover from cyber attacks; a Cyber Institute to help business executives, public officials and bureaucrats learn more about cybersecurity; and a Cyber Research, Education and Training Center that will conduct research on cybersecurity threats and help develop a cybersecurity workforce through education programs at UCCS and other schools around the state.
The center will begin operating Nov. 1 and its Cyber Institute will host a conference on cybersecurity Nov. 13-15 at The Broadmoor hotel for the nation's governors, Anderson said.
The cyber intelligence center is expected to begin advertising later this month for a permanent CEO to head the center, Anderson said.
The center's board also has added two new members:
- Robert Hurst, a Aspen resident who is retired vice chairman of investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and now as managing director of Crestview Advisors LLC, a New York-based private equity firm that manages more than $7 billion in assets. He also will serve at the board's chairman.
- Mark Weatherford, chief cybersecurity strategist at vArmour, a San Francisco company that helps businesses with data center and could computing security and a former deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
David Anderson, chief information officer of Denver-based design, construction and engineering firm CH2M, and Mike Marcotte, CEO of acumen digital, will be co-chairs of the Rapid Response Center's advisory board.
The TRW plant, which once employed 1,600 to build electronics systems for the space shuttle and the Air Force's Advanced Tactical Fighter, was vacant for more than a decade before the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs leased the north half of the building in 2011 to operate the Mortgage Solutions Financial Expo Center. UCCS has been using the other half of the building as a warehouse for storage. Anderson said HBA's lease expires in July 2017 and probably will not be renewed so that the space can be used by the center.
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