A Maryland project focusing on cybersecurity has been selected to move to Phase 2 of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimonda announced in a news release that Howard County Economic Development Authority’s Maryland Cyber Workforce Solutions project has been awarded $500,000 and will compete with 59 other projects around the nation for a $100 million award. Projects must focus on developing and strengthening regional industry clusters. The deadline to apply for Phase 2 is March 15, 2022.

The goal of the Build Back Better Challenge is to develop industry sectors focused on embracing economic equity, creating good-paying jobs and enhancing global competitiveness.

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” Raimondo said in the release. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs, but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.”

Howard County Economic Development Authority is the program lead and the project would serve Information Technology in Baltimore and Carroll, Charles, Harford, Howard, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties. Coalition members include heads of education institutions and industry professionals.

According to the narrative, the coalition aims to leverage industry demands while aligning assets of the cybersecurity community to drive economic prosperity and employment opportunities in the region. Goals of the project are to help regional employers and institutions reimagine how they conceptualize and invest in job expansion, and publicizing opportunities for current and future cybersecurity professionals.

The project aims to provide a work-based learning pipeline, establish a Cyber Range to provide a location for skills training, and develop future employer-driven solutions.