Sequretek, a global cybersecurity company with U.S. headquarters in Little Rock, announced Friday it will form a partnership with local economic development groups to help build the firm's Central Arkansas workforce.
Building a talent pipeline in Arkansas is vital to sustaining the company's U.S. growth, which increased by 115% last year, Sequretek co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Anand Naik said Friday. "We're expecting to grow at the same rate, or even more, over the next couple of years," Naik said in announcing a new workforce development with the Arkansas Center for Data Sciences.
Sequretek, based in India, announced last summer that it would base its U.S. operations in Arkansas and hire up to 50 cybersecurity specialists for its office in the Little Rock Technology Park. It has hired eight employees in the past two weeks, bringing total employment in Little Rock to 12, with plans to hire 50 employees by 2024.
"Cybersecurity workforce development in Little Rock is the foundation for Sequretek's growth in the U.S.," Naik said.
That's where the Center for Data Services comes in -- the workforce initiative will help the company build a talent pipeline and extend the effort to help other information technology companies recruit workers in the state, according to Bill Yoder, executive director of the nonprofit organization that focuses on developing an information technology workforce in Arkansas.
"Companies of all sizes need help in recruiting their tech talent," Yoder said Friday. "We're helping companies compete. We're helping companies grow. We're helping companies relocate."
Sequretek decided to build its U.S. operations in Little Rock after participating in the Little Rock Venture Center's two primary accelerator programs focusing on companies that provide services to the community banking and financial services sectors. The company, Naik said, was warmly welcomed in Arkansas and found collaborators willing to help build its U.S. business.
"Today, that partnership becomes even stronger," he said at the announcement.
The company has invested about $2 million in the U.S. since announcing plans to locate in Little Rock, including about $400,000 in Arkansas to build a workforce and start the training initiative. "We're going to develop the content for the program and develop the train-the-trainer programming," Naik said after announcing the initiative at the Venture Center's offices in downtown Little Rock.
Training and development also will include the Arkansas Department of Education, the Office of Skills Development and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
"This is about their opportunity to grow and our opportunity to help them grow," Jay Chesshir, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, said Friday.
Sequretek is one of 10 companies that have relocated in Central Arkansas after participating in Venture Center accelerator programs, according to the entrepreneurial support organization. More than 100 companies have participated in the community banking and financial services accelerators and 90% of those are either still operating or have been acquired.
Sequretek's 450 employees provide security services to protect the systems and technologies of companies in the banking, financial services, health care, manufacturing and retail services.