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CyberReady™ Training Enables Small Firms To Win Large Contracts

Cyber readiness is a crucial first step in winning contracts with the government, corporations

Industry Workforce Solutions provides training, positions small companies to leverage resources and join U.S. supply chain

Small businesses need opportunities in larger sectors, and those supply chains need the diversity smaller companies bring. Minority-owned small businesses have additional challenges getting into the pipeline, yet they are perhaps the group that needs to be there the most.

At the same time, earning a spot in this competitive ecosystem can feel overwhelming for smaller companies trying to meet the strict protocols required of large corporations and the federal government.

Achieving cyber readiness is a critical first step that can help companies find their way into those contracts. Industry Workforce Solutions is a consulting firm that specializes in preparing businesses to achieve Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), an important cybersecurity milestone and soon a requirement from federal agencies.

To be eligible for government contract set-asides, small businesses ought to be shaping up their cybercrime defenses to protect their business. Sixty percent of small companies close within six months of an attack, as reported by Cybercrime magazine, and the estimated cost of one data breach is roughly $3.62 million.

One organization that has taken action to fill this gap is the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), an advocacy organization focused on correcting unequal access to wealth-building opportunities.

In order to bring critical cybersecurity readiness to its 15,000+ certified minority business enterprises (MBEs), the NMSDC has partnered with IWS to help their minority business enterprises (MBES) with cyber awareness and readiness training. The training, a five-week virtual program called “CyberReadyMBE™,” is offered to certified MBEs at no charge, except for a highly recommended gap assessment that will provide the MBE with a national designation.

The first opportunity for NMSDC’s certified MBEs to take advantage of this program begins September 13, with its National Cyber Summit 2022, followed by four modules and a cyber gap assessment. The program is supported in part by corporate sponsors GE, Bank of America, and Truist Financial Corporation. More opportunities will follow through 2023, and in the future, the consultants of IWS intend to offer the training to other groups.

One unique feature about this training is the direct relationship-building that comes in the latter modules of the training. After addressing the protocols a business needs to have in place, and how to structure the personnel required to maintain cybersecurity, the experts will provide one-on-one opportunities for the small businesses to interact, giving them the necessary guidance to become cyber ready.

Matt Burkett is on the roster of professionals who will speak to the MBEs, providing a session about how to do business with the U.S. Navy. Burkett serves as deputy director of small business at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, a U.S. Navy federal laboratory.

He says the U.S. Navy buys more than $12 billion in goods and services each year from small business partners. Among the most crucial first steps, he says, is making sure the company meets cybersecurity requirements, a must to even be considered for government contracts.

Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan, president and CEO of IWS said, “Our long-standing partnership with NSWC Crane has given us an understanding of the needs of Department of Defense and the Navy and allowed us to build courses like CyberReadyMBE™ to help address cyber-ready supply chain issues that are aligned and relevant.”

Burkett says small and minority-owned businesses have much to gain from becoming cybersecurity ready.

“Who are the businesses that typically struggle with cyber requirements and becoming compliant to work with us? Oftentimes, it’s the small businesses. They are thinking about ‘how do I perform successfully? How do I buy the product or service that is needed in an efficient and cost-effective manner?’ That is typically what they are thinking about, rather than, ‘am I cyber compliant and ready to do business with the federal government?’ ”

Burkett said the importance of cyber readiness cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to government acquisitions. And, sticking with the complex process is worth the investment because of a limited pool of cyber -compliant competitors.

“We have to make sure the contractors are safeguarding the information they have,” Burkett says. “To have knowledgeable people with valuable information on what being cyber ready means can set you apart from others who work in the government space, but aren’t willing to take the steps that you are about to. It is important because a lot of our large Department of Defense suppliers and our DoD industry partners are requiring their small business subcontractors to be cyber compliant,” Burkett says.

To learn more about becoming CyberReady™, visit industryworkforcesolutions.com.

About Industry Workforce Solutions
Industry Workforce Solutions, Inc. brings together the brightest minds in business, government, and academia to address the cyber and workforce maturity issues that inhibit the nation’s supply chain resiliency. The collective expertise of these players is key to solving the nation’s supply chain gaps and related cybersecurity issues. IWS is dedicated to ensuring small- and minority-owned businesses play a critical role in protecting the nation’s data and security. For more information, visit industryworkforcesolutions.com

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VILLA-TECH, Inc. calls CyberReadyMBE™ a must

Cyber readiness program prepares MBEs for cyber safety, new business

Among the first to receive training, tech firm VILLA-TECH, Inc. is eyeing a prestigious federal contract now that it is CyberReady™

NAPERVILLE, IL – Cybersecurity is such an important topic that even a company whose business is information technology needs help safeguarding their business. Not only do they need protection from hackers, but for the best profitability, they need a system considered safe enough for dealings with the federal government.

When Miguel Villarreal, who founded tech firm VILLA-TECH, Inc. in 2014, heard about the CyberReadyMBE™ program created by Industry Workforce Solutions (IWS), he knew he needed to get on board. In fact, the program is why he looked into becoming a certified MBE under the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) in the first place.

In a pilot program in the summer of 2021, the NMSDC was providing the training free to its Chicago-area certified MBEs. Already committing resources to make his business cyber safe, Villarreal was floored by the opportunity to get this training at no cost. The five-week virtual program is now rolling out again beginning September 13, this time open to every one of NMSDC’s MBEs across the nation.

Yulli Chong, VILLA-TECH’s manager of information security, was already looking at implementing a security framework for the company. CyberReadyMBE™ helped her fill in the gaps and speed up that process. The program involves individualized gap assessments and tailor-made procedures designed to help companies address those gaps.

“The CyberReadyMBE™ program gave us a template we could use to customize our policies and procedures. That was one of gaps we needed to fill,” Chong said.

Chong said that for a company looking to implement security controls and harden their network and systems, it does require an investment of time and money, but she urges companies to press on because it pays off in the form of access to more business.

Once a company commits to following through with addressing and filling their security gaps, doors open. This designation is recognized by NMSDC’s 2,000 corporate members giving MBEs who complete the program an advantage in vying for corporate and federal contracts.

VILLA-TECH leveraged the designation and continued its pathway to the Department of Defense’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) Level II, establishing itself as a company secure enough to be considered for work with the federal government.

The developers of CyberReadyMBE™ had this foresight when creating the program. Knowing that this program will serve as a springboard for further certifications, the team made sure the coursework aligns with federal standards and, in fact, uses the CMMC standards as a benchmark.

“What better security model can you implement than something that the government wants,” Villarreal said. “Because we committed to this program, we are now in the middle of doing one of the largest contracts that our company has ever done in its life and probably will ever do.”

The program’s final phase is to connect CyberReady™ MBEs with a larger group of companies who are currently doing business with the federal government.

Villarreal emphasized that completing the program isn’t easy; there is much work to do, but this program is “gold.”

“For a minority company to have access to a program that is going to get you ready to be at a level where you can deal with the government as part of their supply chain is the greatest gift.”

The program is made possible, in part by corporate sponsors GE, Truist and Bank of America.

The program was developed and launched by Industry Workforce Solutions. The company’s president and founder, Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan, has a broader vision of the program and its impact for the entire country.

“Ultimately, we’re providing this training as a way of strengthening the entire U.S. supply chain. An important way of doing that is to diversify it by ensuring every business, large and small, can offer something of value. With NMSDC’s commitment to providing the training to its certified MBEs, a large chunk of the supplier ecosystem is able to be partners in a global economy.”

She adds, “It bolsters the strength of the U.S. supply chain. It bolsters the productivity and profit of individual businesses. And, it keeps us all as safe as possible against cybercrime. It’s good for us all.”

About VILLA-TECH, Inc

VILLA-TECH, Inc. is a leader in next-generation technology, providing global implementations for complex projects. The team can imagine, develop, manage and deliver technology solutions that help clients acquire automated security, cloud and network services to advance their businesses. For more information, visit villa-tech.com.

About Industry Workforce Solutions

Industry Workforce Solutions, Inc. brings together the brightest minds in business, government, and academia to address the cyber and workforce maturity issues that inhibit the nation’s supply chain resiliency. The collective expertise of these players is key to solving the nation’s supply chain gaps and related cybersecurity issues. IWS is dedicated to ensuring small- and minority-owned businesses play a critical role in protecting the nation’s data and security. For more information, visit industryworkforcesolutions.com

About NMSDC

Founded in 1972, NMSDC is the longest-operating business growth engine for the broadest group of systematically excluded communities of color (Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, and Native American), and our impact goes far beyond the supply chain. It’s about upward mobility for the emerging majority of Americans, an equal shot at participating in the American experiment of free-market capitalism and entrepreneurship. Our work is about correcting the unequal access to wealth-building opportunities. For more information, visit nmsdc.org.

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NMSDC partners with IWS to enable cyber readiness training

NMSDC Partners with Industry Workforce Solutions to Enable Cyber Readiness Training for Minority Business Enterprises

NEW YORK – The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) announced this week it will extend critical cybersecurity training to its 15,000+ minority business enterprises (MBEs) across 23 regions beginning this summer.

CyberReadyMBE™ is a five-week program developed by Industry Workforce Solutions (IWS) to provide pathways for companies to increase their cyber capabilities and resiliency, allowing them to become integrated into corporate and public-sector supply chains.

The move is part of a nationwide effort to strengthen the nation’s supply chain and give businesses the infrastructure they need to compete effectively in the global marketplace.

“We are proud to offer this innovative program to our certified-MBEs, to not only meet basic cybersecurity standards to protect themselves and their partners, but more so to give them a competitive edge when they bid on contracts,” said Ying McGuire, CEO and president of NMSDC. “Being certified has first mover advantages, and we hope programs like this will show other MBEs the value of NMSDC certification.”

The launch comes on the heels of a successful pilot program implemented with the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council last summer. Now, the partners are ready to launch the program on a national scale. The first session, which starts Sept. 13, begins registering certified MBEs on July 18. Four subsequent sessions will be offered over the next year to ensure all the MBEs can achieve the designation.

The program kicks off with a cyber summit in which participants will hear from industry experts about their risks, followed by four instructor-led sessions, then onto a gap assessment with the goal of helping MBEs stabilize their systems, thereby increasing their opportunities with NMSDC corporate partners and federal agencies.

When complete, the MBEs will hold a CyberReadyMBE™ designation, recognized by the entire NMSDC corporate member network. The program concludes with a virtual recruitment fair attended by corporate sponsors and supporters to help MBEs cultivate relationships with corporate and governmental entities.

The U.S. Department of Defense and corporations recognize that small businesses have a crucial role in the nation’s efforts against cybersecurity attacks. Using their standards as a model, the program is aligned with the NIST NICE Cyber Framework and the Department of Defense’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which are required for all entities doing business with the DoD.

“We consulted with academic researchers, cybersecurity experts, corporations, and government agencies to build a program that aligns with national standards of cybersecurity,” said Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan, president of Industry Workforce Solutions.

“The result is a pathway for MBEs to increase their cybersecurity capabilities and resiliency. In addition to giving them the tools to be compliant with the standards outlined by the U.S. Department of Defense, the program will also help MBEs address their unique risks and gaps and provide guidance on addressing them.”

The program is sponsored, in part, by Bank of America, GE, and Truist. It is backed by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, which counseled IWS and NMSDC on the tools MBEs need to effectively and safely compete for business in the corporate and government realms.

Brent Voigtschild, corporate operations department director at Naval Surface Warfare Center shared that NAVSEA is in constant need of qualified and prepared companies who can support the critical needs of the U.S. Navy.

“This program gives MBEs access to federal opportunities that they previously couldn’t access because of their cyber immaturity,” Voigtschild said. “This program not only helps the MBE join the global supply chain ecosystem but it strengthens the entire country’s ability to compete globally.”

For more information, send an email to info@industryworkforcesolutions.com

About Industry Workforce Solutions

Industry Workforce Solutions, Inc. brings together the brightest minds in business, government, and academia to address the cyber and workforce maturity issues that inhibit the nation’s supply chain resiliency. The collective expertise of these players is key to solving the nation’s supply chain gaps and related cybersecurity issues. IWS is dedicated to ensuring small- and minority-owned businesses play a critical role in protecting the nation’s data and security. For more information, please visit industryworkforcesolutions.com

About NMSDC

Founded in 1972, NMSDC is the longest-operating business growth engine for the broadest group of systematically excluded communities of color (Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, and Native American), and our impact goes far beyond the supply chain. It’s about upward mobility for the emerging majority of Americans, an equal shot at participating in the American experiment of free-market capitalism and entrepreneurship. Our work is about correcting the unequal access to wealth-building opportunities. For more information, please visit nmsdc.org

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NMSDC forms alliances to improve minority supply chain

National Minority Supplier Development Council Forms Alliances to Improve the Minority Cybersecurity Supply Chain

NEW YORK, NY — The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) begins it national rollout of the CyberReadyMBE™ program at its Chicago council to combat cyberattacks happening across the U.S.

NMSDC and its partners are preparing for cyber growth and supply chain resiliency for their MBEs (minority business enterprises) by launching CyberReadyMBE™. Together, key strategic partners will propel MBEs to stand ready to increase cybersecurity resiliency and capabilities for corporations and federal agencies.

With the generous support of GE and Bank of America and the collaboration with Purdue University, cyber consultants, and government agencies, the program is strategically designed and aligns with national federal standards. The program provides a pathway for MBEs to successfully increase their cyber capabilities and resiliency.

“GE Foundation is proud to support the CyberReadyMBE™ program that will help enable greater economic inclusion for minority business enterprises by investing in their cybersecurity capabilities,” said Mike Barber, GE’s chief diversity officer.

The U.S. Small Business Administration reported in 2018 that of the 27.6 million firms in the U.S. in 2012, 7.9 million firms were minority-owned, representing over 29 percent of all businesses. “It is imperative these organizations play a role in combating cyberattacks and support the nation’s effort to grow and increase the capabilities of its domestic supply chain. The CyberReadyMBE™ is designed to reach the goals of growing MBEs,” said Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan, president of Industry Workforce Solutions.

“Bank of America has been committed to working with diverse businesses for more than 30 years. We understand that for them to be competitive in the marketplace, they must have the knowledge, support and tools that enable them to effectively compete for corporate and government business. We’re excited to join with NMSDC, our long-standing partner, to help diverse businesses reach an essential goal – becoming cyber ready now and in the future,” said Vonshe Jenkins, Bank of America’s supplier diversity and responsible sourcing executive.

The Department of Defense and U.S. corporations recognize that small minority business has a crucial role in the nation’s efforts against cybersecurity attacks. These attacks threaten U.S. technological and industrial dominance.

Larry Fink, division manager for the Expeditionary Command Control Communications and Cyber Division at Naval Surface Warfare Center stated in a recent webinar for the CyberReadyMBE™ program that NAVSEA is in constant need of qualified and prepared cyber companies who can support the critical needs of the Navy. “We look forward to working with NMSDC and their initiatives to improve MBEs while giving them access to federal opportunities.,” he said.

CyberReadyMBE™ will address the cyber readiness of MBEs by assessing and closing the cyber and workforce gaps. The program includes a cyber summit, workshops, and six week-long working group sessions. The goal is to bring MBEs through a process to increase their capabilities and opportunities with the NMSDC corporate partners and federal agencies.

“I’m very excited and impressed to have such an influential group of individuals from Purdue’s Cyber Apprenticeship program along with senior leadership from the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division to senior vice presidents from both Bank of America and GE. We look forward to the Chicago pilot and then on to the national roll-out to our 22 councils. It will have the opportunity to impact over 13,000 MBEs with this program,” said Maria Prince of the NMSDC.

The partnerships have brought together the cyber consulting firm eFortresses to leverage their Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) platform and guide the program to align with the CMMC federal standards.

Vincent Williams, CEO and president of the Chicago Minority Development Council who will oversee the first affiliate rollout, said, “Our MBEs are excited about having the opportunity to participate as cohorts in this pilot program. Our goal is to help our companies increase capabilities, allowing them to land more corporate and federal contracts. We look forward to the Chicago MSDC kick-off summit and workshop on August 11 – 12, 2021. Interested MBEs who wish to participate can contact our office for more details.”

For additional information on the program contact Doreen Gonzalez-Gaboyan at dgaboyan@industryworkforcesolutions.com or Maria Prince at maria.prince@nmsdc.org