CICESS Background

EDC Becomes Home to Secure Software Program

Today, the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council announced that they have approved the adoption of the Central Illinois Center of Excellence for Secure Software (CICESS), a collaborative effort to build a local workforce of trained secure software development professionals through an apprenticeship model.

“We were honored to be asked to become the home for such an innovative and timely initiative,” said Jennifer Daly, CEO for the Greater Peoria EDC. “Development of high quality jobs and a trained talent pool for local employers are both important components of our regional economic development strategy.”

CICESS began two years ago when Girish Seshagiri, who founded Peoria-based Advanced Information Services (AIS) and now serves as the Vice President for ISHPI, identified the opportunity for Greater Peoria to become a center of excellence in software security. Seshagiri established a coalition with Illinois Central College (ICC) and regional employers CEFCU and Illinois Mutual to define and implement a new model for developing local talent in this field.

The coalition confirmed a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) that allowed ICC to adopt CMU’s nationally recognized curriculum for a two year Associate Degree program that will launch this fall at ICC.

This past spring, CICESS was invited to join the State of Illinois’ application for a federal apprenticeship grant.  CICESS was one of two programs in the state recognized in the application.

With growing visibility and a confirmed launch date on the horizon, the coalition decided it was critical to identify a local organization that would be the official sponsor of the program. They approached the Greater Peoria EDC, recognizing that CICESS’ strategic objectives were well aligned with the EDC’s goals for the region.

“The CICESS team has proven themselves to be a talented and driven group willing to put in a great deal of time and effort to bring their concept to fruition,” said Daly. “We are excited to support their efforts.”

“From the beginning, CICESS was supported by the stakeholders in the region as well as federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, National Institute of Standards, National Security Agency, and the Department of Labor.” said Seshagiri. “Our progress would not have been possible without the contribution of executives from ICC, CEFCU, Illinois Mutual and ISHPI.”

Julie Howar, Dean, Illinois Central College, said “ICC has always worked to provide coursework that leads to jobs for our graduates and economic development for our community. We are excited about being able to offer this exceptional program to our students at the most affordable cost in the area and are proud to be part of this important and timely collaboration. “

David Zimmerman, Vice President of Information Services, CEFCU said “As a member of the CICESS steering committee, I am excited to become a working affiliation under the EDC umbrella.  This partnership will be an important relationship for area businesses, the community, area colleges, local school districts, and students that participate.”

Earl Bowers, President, ISHPI said “We thank the EDC Board and CEO for agreeing to become the official sponsor of CICESS as  an economic development initiative for high technology, high wage jobs in the region. ISHPI is proud to be part of the partnership which will be a model for similar future workforce development initiatives.”

Jeffrey Wann, Vice President of Information Technology at Illinois Mutual Life stated that, “The need for development and maintaining secure software is of increasing importance for Illinois Mutual, as well as all companies in our region.  We are honored to be a partner and participants on the CICESS steering Committee in the development of Central Illinois talent with these skillsets.”

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