Cyber security training center coming to Stockbridge

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

A new initiative in Stockbridge could soon see a large influx of people looking for specialized high-tech training that leads to well-paying jobs.

Southern Innovation Institute has been leasing office space in the Stockbridge Downtown Development Authority building on North Park Place for about six months, according to DDA executive director J.T. Williams. It is a not-for-profit organization led by several retired high-ranking military officers and others who are experienced in critical intelligence issues.

One issue that has come to the fore in recent years is cyber security, and that is to be the focus of a new partnership Southern Innovation Institute has forged with EC-Council, which Williams said is perhaps the largest and best-known certification and training organization in the world in this field, with a presence at more than 700 locations in more than 100 countries.

Through this agreement, EC-Council will train students at the Stockbridge location in various cyber security disciplines and help them attain certifications that can qualify them for jobs starting at $60,000-90,000 per year. Right now about 2,500 such positions are unfilled in the metro Atlanta area, according to Williams.

“Our students can come in right here in Stockbridge, get the training and get good-paying jobs,” he said.

Williams was initially approached about Southern Innovation Institute by Alex Crown, who has worked with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and has extensive intelligence experience as well. He met Col. Greg Bagley, the head of the institute, at a meeting hosted by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and learned about the organization’s mission. It soon became apparent that the Eagle’s Landing location the institute now occupies would be ideal, just 20 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and a half-mile from I-75.

“People will be coming in from all over,” Williams said about the activities planned at the facility.

Cyber threats are increasing all the time, both foreign and domestic, and government agencies as well as private companies are gearing up to protect themselves, which makes this training center even more vital in the eyes of those who are putting it together.

Classes could be underway in Stockbridge in as little as three months. Williams was not certain how many students would be served at one time, but the Southern Innovation Institute has leased 8,500 square feet in the building for the initial phase with an option for another 20,000 square feet should it be needed.