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SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal joined Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, STCC President John Cook, and Springfield Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Amanda Pham this week to announce a $3 million earmark to establish a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (CCE) within Springfield Union Station.

The allocation was made possible through congressionally directed spending from the U.S. Department of Education. Neal included funding for this project in the FY 2023 spending bill that was signed into law on Dec. 29.

“The threats facing our nation at both the national and local level are significant, and having the cutting-edge technology capable of countering these threats is of the utmost importance,” Neal said. “Union Station has become a world-class intermodal transportation hub for the Greater Springfield community, and it will now serve as home to a state-of-the-art cybersecurity training center. This will give the brightest young minds in our region the resources they need to combat these threats, ultimately expanding the region’s skilled workforce and shoring up the resiliency of our cybersecurity in Western Massachusetts and beyond.”

Added Cook, “we are tremendously grateful for these federal dollars, which provide a unique investment in students, community college, and the workforce needs of a key sector. Thank you, Congressman Neal, for championing Union Station and helping build our local cyber resiliency.”

The CCE will be developed and operated in collaboration with the MassCyberCenter and serve as a regional CCE for Western Mass. and beyond. The project brings together a consortia of area higher-education institutions, business and civic leaders, and facility professionals. The CCE will provide hands-on training and professional opportunities for students to develop a career in the burgeoning cyber workforce and will be an integral part of the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Consortium.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield students will deck the halls at Springfield Union Station on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 10:30 a.m. for the second annual holiday tree lighting.

The historic concourse will be filled with holiday cheer as U.S. Rep. Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno assist in lighting the tree and kicking off the holiday travel season. The Sci-Tech high-school choir, under the direction of Dr. Jose Passalacqua, will perform “Believe” from The Polar Express and “Rise Up.”

Springfield Union Station, owned by the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, is an intermodal transportation hub located near the North End of Springfield. The station serves as the hub for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, along with Peter Pan Bus Lines, Greyhound Lines, and Hartford Line commuter rail, and is the home of Dietz & Co. Architects and the Hispanic-American Library.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, celebrated the recent announcement by the Baker-Polito administration and the MassCyberCenter at the MassTech Collaborative regarding a new initiative to promote the development of a diverse cybersecurity workforce and improve local cyber resiliency in the Commonwealth that will bring $1,462,995 to Springfield.

This funding will allow Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) to establish a security operation center, or SOC, at Springfield Union Station that will provide threat monitoring and other cybersecurity services for Commonwealth municipalities and small business/nonprofit customers. The funds will also establish a cyber range, a new testing lab to mirror real-world IT environments to provide hands-on training opportunities available to local companies, universities, and other cyber-focused organizations.

Neal was joined on Monday at Springfield Union Station by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Springfield Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Amanda Pham, STCC President John Cook, CyberTrust Massachusetts CEO Pete Sherlock, MassCyberCenter Director Stephanie Helm, and local leaders to celebrate the award.

“Springfield Union Station is a world-class transportation hub that will now be home to a world-class cybersecurity-training and security-management center,” Neal said. “The Baker-Polito administration has worked hand in hand with the city of Springfield, the STCC team, and my office to make this a reality.”

Sarno added that “this $1.5 million investment to STCC for this transformative and dynamic Cybersecurity Center of Excellence at our historic Union Station will support the state’s workforce-development objectives around cybersecurity with promoting diversity and supporting that good four-letter word, jobs.”

The facility will be overseen by a steering committee of public, private, and academic stakeholders, which will include the Springfield Redevelopment Authority (SRA), which owns Union Station.

“Union Station is uniquely positioned to accommodate the Cyber Center as it serves as the region’s intermodal transportation center at the crossroads of New England providing rail and bus service to our area’s diverse population,” Phan said. “We thank the Baker-Polito administration and MassCyberCenter for the award and designation as a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and congratulate STCC on this milestone. These funds, coupled with the city of Springfield’s commitment of $500,000, will allow for the advancement of design and construction of this transformative center.”

STCC is the lead entity developing both a cyber range and SOC within the Union Station complex, serving Western Mass. and beyond. STCC will staff and operate the facility in partnership with a consortia of area higher-education institutions (Bay Path University, UMass Amherst, Western New England University, Elms College, and Springfield College), each of which bring a range of undergraduate certificate and degree programs in IT/security, cybersecurity, computer science and programming, digital forensics, and criminal justice. Another facility will be based at Bridgewater State University.

The grant to STCC will cover renovation and construction of the Union Station space, which is estimated to open during the first half of 2024, based on the initial timeline provided. The proposed facility will include a classroom and a conference room for up to 60 people, able to accommodate cyber-related events and to serve as a space for collaboration, in addition to separate classroom space, workstations for use by academic partners, offices for facility staff, a tech-support area, a kitchen, and storage.

As part of a site-based service arrangement, STCC will provide administrative oversight for the facility, including all HR for employees and hiring of key personnel, plus the establishment of electronic-systems management.

“This first-of-its-kind collaboration among business, higher ed, and government through CyberTrust Massachusetts could transform our cyber education and training, growing our workforce and creating new opportunities statewide, while helping to make our communities more cyber resilient,” Sherlock said.

Cook said the award will be “transformative for our region and higher education. As one of the most pervasive liabilities for our businesses and communities, these funds ensure a regional center that will be a nexus for the cyber workforce with hands-on learning, in addition to establishing a resource for protecting our community partners against cybersecurity threats.”

Helm sees these initial investments as critical for building out a plan for a “cyber-resilient Massachusetts,” adding that “the key word is ‘resilient,’ as no organization is successful 100% of the time when it comes to defending against cyber attacks. With the new monitoring capabilities, organizations can increase awareness, detect intrusions faster, and respond more quickly to an incident.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Union Station welcomed back Vanessa Ford, the “Songstress of Springfield,” who is well-known for singing at various local area events, to record a new version of “O Holy Night” for the holiday season. She was joined by Springfield Conservatory of the Arts student Kayla Staley, who performed “The First Noel.”

The video will run on social media through Dec. 25. Click here to view it.

“This certainly is a special holiday season for us all,” said Nicole Sweeney, property manager for Springfield Union Station. “And I can’t think of a better way to start it than with the beautiful voices of Vanessa and Kayla.”

Ford began singing in the church choir at age 7, and she loves every genre of music. She is an aficionado of classical music, jazz, pop, traditional hymns, and contemporary gospel music. She has performed the national anthem for many local college sporting events, at Springfield Police Academy graduations, and for a multitude of high-profile local and national events.

Staley has been singing since she was 12. She enjoys singing at nursing homes, along with other public performances, and hopes to travel to different cities to sing and put smiles on people’s faces.

The video was planned, recorded, and produced by GCAi Digital PR Analyst Mary Cate Mannion, who is also a producer at New England Corporate Video.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Union Station announced that Vanessa Ford, “the Songstress of Springfield,” who is well-known for singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at various area events, will record a new version of the song at Union Station. The new video recording will be posted on springfieldunionstation.com and disseminated through social media starting on Friday, July 2 and running through Monday, July 5.

“This Fourth of July will be a celebration like no other in recent memory,” said Nicole Sweeney, property manager for Springfield Union Station. “So we wanted to offer something that both captures the spirit of the celebration as well as features a local treasure, Vanessa Ford.”

Ford began singing in her church choir at age 7, and she loves every genre of music. She is an aficionado of classical music, jazz, pop, traditional hymns, and contemporary gospel music, and has performed the national anthem for many local college sporting events, Springfield Police Academy graduations, and a multitude of high-profile local and national events.

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