A little Silicon Valley along the I-20 Cyber Corridor
CenturyLink hosted the 2017 Cyber Security Summit at its Monroe Headquarters on Wednesday with an overflow audience and numerous national cybersecurity speakers & panelists on the agenda. Governor John Bel Edwards, who is one of a small number of governors serving on a cyber security policy academy for the National Governors’ Association, also spoke at the Summit. Craig Spohn of the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City led an academic panel that included Sumeet Dua of Louisiana Tech, Ron Berry from ULM, and representatives from CSRA and IBM – two major cyber companies located in Bossier City and Monroe. Other Louisiana companies, Entergy and AT&T, also served on panels to discuss cyber impacts on their companies. Thanks to the vision and leadership of CenturyLink CEO (and Tech alumnus) Glen Post, the nation was able to see the important role that North Louisiana is playing in connecting and protecting the national cyber domain. While there have been many other significant cyber conferences and activities in North Louisiana over the past few years, I believe that this CenturyLink Summit was the signature event that formally defined the I-20 Cyber Corridor as an essential national asset.
On Thursday morning, I welcomed to my office Josh Pierry and his Executive Team from Pierry Inc. Pierry is a marketing-as-a-service technology company headquartered in San Francisco, and was recently recognized as the 6th fastest growing company in Silicon Valley. Josh was in Ruston to formally kick off the opening of their operations at Tech Pointe. The partnership between Pierry and Louisiana Tech will be extensive and we are thrilled with the internships, jobs and research opportunities this partnership will provide to our students, graduates and faculty. In acknowledging the significance of their locating offices in Ruston, Pierry noted the high level of cyber and technology-related business activities in North Louisiana that are creating the critical mass of talent and activity to enable them to be successful with further growth of their company.
On Thursday at lunch, I was invited to speak to representatives from several universities in the Austin region of EDA (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas) who were on campus to learn about EDA University Centers. Dr. Davy Norris was invited by EDA to organize this event because of the success that Tech has had in using EDA funding to support the growth of our regional innovation ecosystem. My lunch presentation focused on the role that Tech has played in developing the I-20 Cyber Corridor over the past 15 years or so. I highlighted institutional, state, federal and partnership investments, commitment and leadership that have been crucial to getting our region to this point of national competitiveness for these kinds of opportunities.
On Friday, Tech led a North Louisiana Health Analytics Conference at the Willis-Knighton Innovation Center in Bossier City that featured a number of national and state leaders who spoke on the importance on analytics, information management, and information security to improve healthcare for our citizens. The program was organized by Tech’s Angela Kennedy of our Health Informatics and Information Management program and Sumeet Dua of our Computer Science program under the guidance of VP Stan Napper. Dr. Dua was joined by senior executives from Microsoft, CSRA, CenturyLink and Blue Cross Blue Shield in a key industry panel and Dr. Rebekah Gee (Secretary, Louisiana Department of Health) and Senator Bill Cassidy were featured speakers. It was fitting that this informatics and analytics conference, led by Louisiana Tech along with our partners, was held on this special week that formally defined the I-20 Cyber Corridor. What a week for our region!