TAMPA, Fla. -- It's been all over the news and social media lately – cyber attacks. Identity theft. Ransomware.
It's why cyber security is one of the hottest industries in the world right now, and there's a push to make Tampa's historic Ybor City ground zero in the fight for digital defense.
Adam Sheffield is leading the charge.
If he has his way, Ybor City will become as famous for cyber security as cigars.
“From a business standpoint, it makes sense. Why not Tampa?” he said.
Sheffield is passionate about a soon-to-open Tampa branch of SecureSet Academy inside Ybor's historic Don Vicente hotel. The second-floor space, serving as an educational and social hub for people who share a passion for digital defense.
The Colorado-based company offers crash courses in cyber security, targeting people who might already have some practical tech experience but don’t necessarily have the time or money to go back to school for a full degree.
“We provide them a more direct and more rapid opportunity to get integrated into the field,” said Sheffield.
And with social gatherings and brainstorming sessions with local business, it provides the networking opportunity to land jobs.
Sheffield thinks Tampa is a perfect place for what he's calling “Cybor” - a play on the word Ybor.
He hopes it will be a magnet for cyber security companies, the way that the phrase "Silicon Valley" worked to attract tech companies in California.
“You know, if we can just consolidate everything here in Ybor, we think you're going to create that effect that will kind of multiply over time,” said Sheffield.
In some ways it's already happening.
USF is the home to Florida's Center for Cybersecurity. MacDill is home to US Special Operations Command.
Socom has a hand in the Doolittle project, which is right across the street from SecureSet Academy, and is a key player in Sofwerx a military innovation incubator.
Later this year, Drone Works - a similar set-up for unmanned vehicles - will be moving to Ybor too.
“There are so many talented engineers in this area that are just unknown,” said Michael Ferris, CEO at Tampa cyber-security firm Abacode.
Ferris says he likes the Cybor concept and the laid-back, creative vibe in Ybor City.
“What we do, what our engineers do that, is very stressful. Just a lot of moving parts. It's very complex. So, to have an environment that is relaxed, feels good,” said ferris.
Sheffield's Cybor vision might still be in its infancy, but with cyber-security projected to be a $1 trillion industry over the next 10 years, there’s a lot of buzz over bringing that boom to Cigar City.
SecureSet Academy plans to open its doors in a couple of weeks.
For more information about them click here.
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