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Pool of IT talent in Richmond region attracts GE technology center

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Résumés began flooding in soon after General Electric Co. announced plans in April to open an information security technology center in Henrico County. The company chose Henrico based in part on the IT security talent in the area.

“The Virginia Economic Development Partnership had great insight into IT professional organizations and colleges [with a cyber-security curriculum] there,” says Deneen DeFiore, site manager and IT risk solutions leader for GE. “There are a number of resources really qualified to help us staff, and we will definitely partner with those folks.”

During negotiations, the Greater Richmond Partnership scheduled meetings for GE and several area companies that have similar cyber-security needs, such as Dominion Resources, Capital One Financial Corp. and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. “They were very persuasive,” says Greg Wingfield, president and CEO of the Partnership, the region’s economic development marketing organization. “They did a good job of talking about how they recruited as well as turnover rates, etc.”

During the next few years, GE’s center is expected to create about 200 high-tech jobs focused on cyber security as well as network design architecture, data management and application development.

GE will partner with colleges and universities such as Virginia Commonwealth University that have a specialty in cyber security. “VCU’s information systems program is unique in the country because it blends technology and business education,” says Gurpreet Dhillon, professor of information security at VCU. “I am pleased to see the skill sets they are looking at match what we have at VCU.”

Dhillon hasn’t heard of any classes that will be added in response to GE’s move to the area but doesn’t rule out the possibility. “I don’t see why we would not be extremely receptive to that,” he says.

GE’s technology center is scheduled to open during the third quarter of this year in an Innsbrook Corporate Center building that once housed the headquarters of LandAmerica Financial Group Inc. The title insurance company went bankrupt in 2008.

DeFiore’s goal is to fill up to 40 jobs, averaging $100,000 a year, by the time the center opens. “We hope to fill as many as we can,” she says. “One of the things we are trying to do with the center is take it to a new leading edge. We will use collaboration in technology and be a hub for innovation so we can move the company forward.” 


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