The City of Harrisonburg's April Update & Focus: The global cybersecurity market is projected to increase from $67 billion in 2011 to $156 billion by 2019.  This explosive growth of the cybersecurity sector provides an economic opportunity for the City of Harrisonburg.  By maximizing the existing assets available in the area and developing new ones, Harrisonburg can be positioned to tap into this fast growing industry. 

Harrisonburg Economic Development has set out on a course to build a successful cybersecurity eco-system, consisting of a sustainable workforce, partnerships with education, quality infrastructure, support from the government and interaction amongst peers in the industry.  The first step in creating that eco-system is to   understand the needs of the industry. 

To that end, we recently partnered with James Madison University to host a day-long Cybersecurity Forum.  The forum brought together JMU’s Computer Information Systems & Business Analytics Executive Advisory Board (comprised of JMU graduates who have become leaders in the fields of technology and cybersecurity) with our local economic development partners. 

The goal of the forum was to tap into cybersecurity industry expertise to advise Harrisonburg Economic Development on how best to position the City to attract and grow cybersecurity companies.  We certainly think we know our best assets, our vulnerabilities and the great opportunities available in Harrisonburg, but we wanted to hear directly from industry leaders about what could make Harrisonburg stand out as a destination for cybersecurity companies.

The Cybersecurity Forum utilized the WorldCafe format to facilitate the discussion.  Under this format, the room was separated into five tables with each table representing a topic critical to the subject area.  We divided the cybersecurity eco-system into five topics:

  • The Cybersecurity Startup: Current and Future Opportunities
  • Cultivating Harrisonburg into a Magnet for the Cybersecurity Industry
  • Arming the Cybersecurity Warrior: Education and Workforce Development
  • Marketing: Putting Harrisonburg’s Best Foot Forward
  • SWATting the SWOT: Red Teaming Harrisonburg’s Strategic Plan

Each participant was incredibly engaged and provided tremendous value to all of our topics.  By the end of the table sessions, the walls were filled with observations, ideas and action steps.  After the lively and energetic table discussions, each table host presented on key themes and action steps identified for their particular topic.

However, the interaction did not stop there.  To wrap up the day, each participant stood up before the group, identified one action step they will now take to further the forum’s goal and named one (or more) person to hold them accountable for implementing their action step.

These action steps, and the others identified at the forum, will help form critical components of the City’s Cybersecurity Strategic Plan.  Now with action steps in hand, the City can begin the work of creating a sustainable, vibrant eco-system to build the cybersecurity sector in Harrisonburg.  Please let us know if you would like to learn more about Harrisonburg’s cybersecurity efforts. Check us out at www.harrisonburgdevelopment.com.