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The GO Virginia State Board announced that it is awarding a $202,872 grant to support a Radford University initiative aimed toward growing the regional economy though IT and cybersecurity education programs. This is first GO Virginia grant awarded to the university.

Developing IT & Cybersecurity Certification Pipeline (ITCCP), a partnership between the Radford University Division of Economic Development and Corporate Education and the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Southwest Virginia, is a collaborative project with Radford University, Virginia Tech and New River Community College designed to increase the number of professionals with IT and cybersecurity certifications.

“Strategic investments from the Commonwealth of Virginia and local partnerships are an ideal way to create economic prosperity, and Radford University is proud to be a significant partner for meeting the needs of GO Virginia Region 2.” President Bret Danilowicz said. “With this support from GO Virginia, local governments, regional employers, and our educational partners at Virginia Tech and New River Community College, we can address a clear demand in our region for IT and cybersecurity professionals and provide a pathway to rewarding careers.”

A leading goal of ITCCP is to support the growth of critical in-demand higher wage occupations in the IT & Emerging Tech cluster within GO Virginia Region 2, as well as other priority clusters that utilize similar talent. IT and cybersecurity occupations in GO Virginia Region 2 are forecasted to increase 11 percent by 2027, and on average, there are 758 job openings in these occupations annually.

GO Virginia Region 2 consists of the cities of Radford, Covington, Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Salem as well as Alleghany, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Botetourt, Campbell, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski and Roanoke counties.

The project will enhance coordination and communication between Radford University and its higher education partners and area employers to create a pipeline of students and graduates with in-demand professional certifications - such as CompTIA, Cisco and AWS - to address regional talent gaps.

The pipeline of talent will be developed in collaboration with IT and cybersecurity programs at partnering institutions that have existing courses that align to professional certifications. ITCCP will also connect regional employers to the pipeline of credentialed professionals to fill in-demand occupations in the Roanoke and New River valleys.

“This collaborative project will tap into existing courses and programs at these institutions to create a pipeline of graduates with IT and cybersecurity certifications that employers can pull from to fill critical, in-demand jobs in the region,” said Charlie Jewell, director of economic development and community engagement for Radford University and principal investigator for the ITCCP project.

In addition, a regional testing center will be established at The HUB at Radford for Economic Development to increase accessibility to certification testing for IT and cybersecurity certifications for students at partnering institutions and incumbent workers in the New River Valley.

“Opportunities like the ITCCP initiative are what The HUB at Radford was created to support by training and connecting a workforce that will be well-prepared for the future,” said Angela Joyner, vice president for economic development and corporate education for Radford University.

The project is supported by the GO Virginia Region 2 Council, Montgomery County, New River Community College, Onward New River Valley, Pulaski County, New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board, Radford City, Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, Verge, and Virginia Tech. ITCCP was also endorsed by twelve businesses that provided letters of support indicating how the project would help them address their talent needs.

"The success of this proposal illustrates the strengths of the New River Valley, leveraging our strong institutional partnerships to enhance the cybersecurity ecosystem in our region," said Gretchen Matthews, director of the Southwest Virginia node of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative. "This was a multi-institution effort with exemplary leadership from Radford University and support from the Virginia Tech Center for Economic and Community Engagement. We can't wait to see the difference it makes."

GO Virginia is a statewide initiative encouraging Virginia’s economic growth through the creation of high-wage jobs. The GO Virginia board approved a total of $202,872 in state funds for the project, which is leveraging $116,863 in non-state sources.