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Mesa County Consortium Awarded $625,000 Grant for Technology Development Hub Project

The project will focus on protecting critical infrastructure, particularly the Colorado River, through cybersecurity measures, development of college-level curriculum to support industry workforce development.

ColoradoBiz Staff //April 24, 2024//

Hand of government or partners giving grants to business. Tiny people receiving money, searching financial assistance and protection flat vector illustration. Subsidy, finance, investment concept.
Hand of government or partners giving grants to business. Tiny people receiving money, searching financial assistance and protection flat vector illustration. Subsidy, finance, investment concept.

Mesa County Consortium Awarded $625,000 Grant for Technology Development Hub Project

The project will focus on protecting critical infrastructure, particularly the Colorado River, through cybersecurity measures, development of college-level curriculum to support industry workforce development.

ColoradoBiz Staff //April 24, 2024//

The Economic Development Commission (EDC) has announced that a local consortium of public, private and non-profit organizations in Mesa County will receive up to $625,000 through the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) Technology Development Hub Program.

The Technology Development Program seeks to catalyze regional technology development by making place-based investments, positioning Colorado competitively nationally and globally in diverse Colorado regions and ecosystems with assets and resources to drive increased business attraction, net new job growth and workforce development with a focus on equity and inclusion.

READ: 4 Ways Colorado Continues to Lead America’s Aerospace Industry

“From our world-class institutions of higher education to our highly talented and educated workforce, Colorado is home to so much amazing innovation. We are developing the technologies of tomorrow right here, and Colorado Technology Hubs will ensure our state continues to be a national leader,” said Governor Polis.

The Resilient & Adaptive Cyber Protection of Industrial Control Devices & Systems (RAPIDS) Consortium is comprised of representatives from Mesa County, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction Economic Partnership, GroupSense and the Colorado River District.

The project will focus on protecting critical infrastructure, particularly the Colorado River, through cybersecurity measures, development of college-level curriculum to support industry workforce development, enabling secure and efficient management of water resources and providing a service economy to roughly 300 municipal water districts along the Colorado River.

“I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the RAPIDS Consortium with such dedicated partners. This grant from the OEDIT Technology Development Hub Program is an investment in technology and a commitment to safeguarding the Colorado River and enhancing our region’s resilience against cyber threats,” said Cody Davis, Mesa County Commissioner.

“By strengthening our critical infrastructure, we are ensuring the security of our water resources, which are vital for our community’s agricultural and economic prosperity. This project demonstrates our proactive approach to facing national challenges right from Mesa County,” said Cody Davis, Mesa County Commissioner.

Critical infrastructure vulnerability has been identified as a national issue, with possible cyber-attacks anticipated to impact critical technology-enabled resources, including water and agriculture.

RAPIDS began as a vision to protect the Colorado River and develop sustainable strategies to protect critical infrastructure nationally. The framework for the RAPIDS project will consist of three pillars:

  1. Water storage.
  2. Water policy
  3. Water protection.

The technology hub’s model will focus on updating and securing modern control systems along the Colorado River and determining ways to protect our water through cybersecurity, workforce, and talent development.

READ: Elevating the Economy — The Impact of Tech Startups on Colorado’s Business Ecosystem 

“We’re thrilled to be a part of such a diverse coalition focused on diversifying our economy and protecting our most critical infrastructure,” said CMU President John Marshall.

“This investment will help us continue our efforts to protect critical water resources right here in Mesa County.” Colorado Mesa University will act as the Fiscal Agent for the consortium, and funds will be dispersed over three years, subject to the terms of the agreement. The grant will enable the RAPIDS Consortium to begin funding feasibility studies, long-term business plans, and curriculum development at CMU.

“From an economic development perspective, this has the potential to create new primary jobs as we move towards the goal of a physical presence right here in Mesa County that will expand our reach,” said Curtis Englehart, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership. “Securing funding to begin this project is a huge win for our community as we champion ways to increase efficiency on how our water systems are managed and protected from cyber threats.”

As the digital world interfaces with our physical infrastructure, the importance of protecting the Colorado River from cyber-attacks cannot be overstated.

By fortifying digital infrastructure, investing in robust cybersecurity measures and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, RAPIDS aims to mitigate the risk of potential disasters and secure the river’s sustainable future.

“As we work to develop tomorrow’s most critical technologies, we have the opportunity to spur growth and innovation across the state so that Coloradans of all backgrounds can benefit from these incredible new opportunities. Each of these Colorado Tech Hubs will build on regional strengths while working to create inclusive and equitable ecosystems that support a Colorado economy that works for everyone,” said OEDIT’s Executive Director, Eve Lieberman.

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