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U.S. Rep. Richard Neal obtained $3 million earmark

Additional funding has been secured to establish a cybersecurity center in western Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal announced a $3 million earmark for the Cybersecurity Center of Excellence that is being built in Springfield Union Station.

“I think this is worthwhile investment and generations are going to enjoy the benefits of what we’ve done,” said the Springfield Democrat.

Cybersecurity is a big deal everywhere, said Neal.

“We talk about it in Washington all the time,” he said.

The center, which is expected to open next year, will provide services for a fee to small businesses and municipalities and train students from local colleges for careers in cybersecurity.

This latest funding for the project was included in the federal budget bill signed into law last month.

It brings the total from the federal government to $4.5 million. The state is putting up $1.5 million and the city of Springfield is kicking in $500,000.

Springfield Technical Community College will staff and operate the center. Other area higher education institutions will participate including Bay Path University, Elms College, and Western New England University.

The center will strengthen cybersecurity resilience in western Massachusetts and develop a workforce in a burgeoning field, said Mary Kaselouskas, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at STCC.

“I think it is a win-win for everyone,” she said.

There are roughly 30,000 cybersecurity jobs currently open in Massachusetts, Kaselouskas said.

“Looking at the minority community and the underserved, this is a great way to come to STCC or other colleges, go through the program, get real hands-on experience, and go on to the businesses,” she said.

With the center available as a resource to municipalities and businesses throughout the region, it makes sense to house it in a transportation hub, said Amanda Pham, Executive Director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, which owns Union Station.

“We can’t wait to welcome them here,” she said. “We think it is a great fit.”

The center will occupy 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor of the station.

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