HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) — LindenPointe Development Corporation’s Technology Business Incubator announced the formation of the new Pennsylvania Cybersecurity Center.

The new center’s mission will be to create and manage a collaborative cybersecurity ecosystem with regional businesses, high schools, community colleges, and universities and will be an incubator for cybersecurity startups.

“With approximately 16,000 open cybersecurity positions in Pennsylvania alone, and more than 600,000 across the country, the Pennsylvania Cybersecurity Center represents an opportunity for our area to become a leader in training the next generation of cybersecurity professionals,” said Jeffrey Meier, executive director at LindenPointe Development Corporation.

The first-of-its-kind initiative within the state will focus on providing a holistic approach to cybersecurity pathways for individuals with training and certifications, real-world, hands-on experience, and paid internship and apprenticeship opportunities.

The center will also drive economic development throughout Mercer County and rural communities by bringing high-tech jobs in the cybersecurity field to the area

The PCC will launch its first pilot program in February with an anticipated 30 students from area high schools and colleges, including Hickory, Sharpsville, Greenville, Sharon, Farrell, Penn State Shenango, Thiel College, and Westminster College.

“In addition to our academic partnerships with local high schools and colleges, our workforce and industry partners will play a large role in the success of the Center,” Meier said.

Those workforce organizations include West Central Job Partnership, HopeCAT, Mercer County Career and Technical Center, and Penn-Northwest Development Corporation, and join the list of leading industry partners including Cisco, CompTIA, and ForceNow.

The PCC is funded in part by a grant from the PAsmart Industry Partnership and additional contributions from the CHIP Foundation, Hudson Construction, and the Margaret Walker Foundation. A kickoff meeting for the Center is planned for late January.