Scott showcases Tampa cybersecurity firm employing 130
June 8, 2015
Jerome R. Stockfisch | Tampa Tribune/TBO.com
Gov. Rick Scott visited a local cybersecurity company on Monday to highlight its hiring spurt, lauding Sunera LLC and pronouncing Tampa the leader in state job creation.
The cyber risk management company and national leader in data risk management, data privacy and data analytics is booming within a field that is growing overall. Sunera has hired 43 people in the last two years to bring its Tampa work force to 70 and its Florida ranks to 130. It has 230 staffers across North America. In February, the company expanded its space in downtown’s Fifth Third Center on Kennedy Boulevard and announced it would be hiring another 40 with an average salary of $65,000 in the next three years.
Joel Schleicher, Sunera’s board chairman, cited recent security breaches at the Internal Revenue Service and the federal Office of Personnel Management as examples of how millions of Americans’ identities and health and financial records are at risk.
“Isn’t it just common sense that consumers, enterprises and shareholders should be secure in the knowledge that confidential information residing on networks is safe and secure?” said Schleicher.
Scott presented Sunera chief executive Yong-Gon Chon with a Business Ambassador medal, and the company in turn gave Scott a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey with the governor’s go-to slogan, “Let’s Get to Work,” on the back.
Scott said Florida has added 865,000 jobs in his just over four years as governor. He said the state unemployment rate has dipped to 5.6 percent. In Tampa, which has added 39,000 jobs in the last 12 months, the unemployment rate is 5.0 percent.
“Our state’s headed in the right direction,” Scott told Sunera employees, reporters and other government officials in the company’s 17th-floor suite of offices. “It’s exciting what’s going on all around our state, and Tampa’s the leader.”
That shout-out was music to the ears of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who attended the event.
“If you think about the mission we’ve been on for the last four years, which is to change Tampa’s economic DNA, to focus on recruiting intellectual capital from around the globe, to make this a city that young professionals want to be a part of, we’ve changed the narrative here in this community,” Buckhorn said. “And it’s companies like this, with employees like this, with future employees like you’re about to hire that will help to drive generations of economic development in this community.”
A major challenge for Sunera and its peer companies is finding the talent to fill the rapidly expanding field of cybersecurity, Chon said. He noted the unemployment rate in cybersecurity is zero percent, with some sources estimating a shortage of 200,000 workers nationwide.
The University of Tampa, Saint Leo University and the University of South Florida are all attempting to meet that demand with new cybersecurity centers.
“It’s a great opportunity for the young folks of America,” Schleicher said. “We’re creating highly skilled, high-tech, high-paying jobs … One thing about cybersecurity is that it’s not a passing fad. It’s going to be here for years to come. And we have to be ahead of the criminals, not behind them, like we are now.”
Sunera is receiving $164,000 in hiring incentives through the state’s Qualified Target industry program, with the city of Tampa accounting for $29,520 of the total and Hillsborough County $3,280.
Scott has been criticized for his absences at the state Capitol during a contentious legislative season. As the regular session was melting down in April, he was dedicating a Wawa convenience store in Fort Myers and viewing a Ferris wheel in Orlando.
Monday brought more acrimony between the House and Senate in Tallahassee during the special session, but Scott defended his trip to Tampa and later to Key Biscayne to observe a sea turtle release.
“We’ve added 865,000 jobs in a little over four years, and we need to continue to highlight the successes, highlight companies that are adding jobs around our state, continue to recruit more companies to our state,” he said after Monday’s event.
“We’re on a roll, but we have to continue to work at it every day, and that’s what I’m continuing to do. We’re working with the House and the Senate during the special session on the budget process. They know my priorities.”