Cybersecurity / Federal government / Funding / Jobs

Westminster’s MAGIC gets federal agriculture department grant to create cyber jobs

The USDA Rural Business Development grant will fund new and existing cybersecurity workforce initiatives from the Carroll County tech nonprofit.

Westminter's past and future. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

This gives a whole new meaning to living off the land: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding a cybersecurity education program in Maryland’s Carroll County.

Westminster’s Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC) received a $30,000 Rural Business Development Grant to support its education and workforce development programs.

“This support from the USDA will help us create more cyber jobs and opportunities here in Carroll County, where our economy is increasingly being driven by the cybersecurity industry,” said Graham Dodge, executive director of MAGIC, which is the nonprofit tasked with tech ecosystem growth around Westminster’s municipal fiber network. “Ultimately we want to reverse the outward flow of commuters and connect ‘Gen Z’ back into our own communities.”

MAGIC is creating a program called CyberJobs. Dodge said the program will support existing programs that engage students, including CyberClub and Capture The Flag competitions (the next of which is on Nov. 7). Students will be referred to Carroll Community College and McDaniel College, which offer certifications and degrees. MAGIC is also creating an assessment program to help regional businesses identify, create and hire cybersecurity roles within their own businesses.

The federal grant program is specifically focused on economic development in rural areas, and they don’t have to involve growing crops or livestock. In a statement, USDA Rural Development State Director Denise Lovelady said the grant “will help retain and grow Carroll County’s workforce.”

People: Graham Dodge

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