Virginia has been awarded $1.5 million in federal funding to provide Virginia small businesses in the defense industry with required cybersecurity skills and certifications and help modernize the maritime industrial workforce.
“Virginia is a leader in the defense industry and the second highest recipient of Defense Department investments among all states,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a release. “Local defense suppliers are critical to present and future military readiness, and this federal funding will help enhance their cyber capabilities while also improving the resiliency of our maritime workforce to meet modernization opportunities.”
The grant includes $1.026 million for the GENEDGE Alliance, which will help at least 85 small defense companies maintain compliance with U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) cybersecurity standards. An additional $474,000 will go to the Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem (MIBE) initiative, managed by Old Dominion University. MIBE seeks to transform the shipbuilding and ship repair workforce with modernized and sustained maritime training pipelines. The funding was awarded by the DoD Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) through their industry resilience program. In 2019, Virginia received a federal grant of $3.2 million to support cybersecurity training and shipbuilding and maritime workforce development initiatives.
“Our partnerships with GENEDGE and the Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem provide services that give our small businesses a competitive edge,” said Acting Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Kathleen Jabs. “This federal grant will allow us to increase investment in capabilities for our military and national advantage through innovation, modernization, and collaboration.”
“Cyber threats are growing in volume and severity every day, and the requirements to safeguard against those threats are increasing in complexity,” said Jeff Jaycox, Chairman of the GENEDGE Board of Trustees. “Our program enables these companies to understand and develop required competencies to prepare them for Cybersecurity Maturity Model certification, which will enable them to remain competitive in dynamic markets that contribute to national security.”
“This funding will help MIBE work with its stakeholders to strengthen Virginia’s maritime workforce, which is critical to our ability to continue building the world’s best warships, while also improving ship repair on-time completion rates,” said retired Rear Admiral Brad Williamson, Executive Director of the Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem. “It will also position Virginia as a leader in the application of Industry 4.0 and 5.0 technologies in the maritime space. MIBE is engaged with business, academic, non-profit, and public leaders across five Virginia economic regions, as well as our public and private shipyards. I am certain that our collective efforts can create the maritime industrial base workforce of tomorrow while simultaneously creating jobs and economic opportunity across Hampton Roads.”
Virginia consistently ranks among the top states in defense spending and 11 percent of the state gross domestic product is defense related. According to a 2021 OLDCC report, Virginia ranks third among all states for defense contract spending at $30.5 billion, second for direct defense spending at $60.3 billion, and first for defense personnel spending at $15.7 billion.