A small Boulder cybersecurity firm looking at a major expansion that could bring nearly 500 jobs to Boulder County received approval for $2.42 million in state tax incentives on Thursday morning.

RADICL Defense is a Boulder startup that is considering expanding in Colorado or relocating to Orlando, Fla., as it takes on more contracts to help small- and medium-sized firms boost their cybersecurity efforts.

To help retain the company, the Colorado Economic Development Commission approved $2.42 million in job growth incentive tax credits to Project Disco, the code name given to RADICL. In return, the company, which currently has eight employees, agreed to create up to 491 net new jobs over the next eight years at an average annual wage of $126,812, which is 147% of the average annual wage in Boulder County.

The jobs to be added include engineers, sales and marketing staff, product designers, cyber and security analysts, and financial roles.

“I spent a lot of time in Florida in my past life and we were seriously considering moving our headquarters down there,” RADICL COO David Graff told the commission.

Graff co-founded the company in 2022 with brothers Chris and Matt Petersen. And while it might seem aggressive to go from eight to nearly 500 employees in such a short span, Chris Petersen, RADICL’s CEO, has done it before with a Boulder company called LogRhythm.

Chris Petersen and Phil Villella, an experimental physicist, came up with the idea for a cybersecurity company called Security Conscious while on a camping trip near Steamboat Springs in 2002. In 2005, their company changed its name to LogRhythm and set up its operations in Boulder, and later added offices in England and Singapore. In 2018, Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm, acquired LogRhythm, which it relocated to Broomfield last year.

In a post on RADICL’s website, Chris Petersen said he was enraged when learning about the cyberattack on SolarWinds by hackers attached to the Russian intelligence service. The information technology company had malicious code inserted into one of its software updates that allowed hackers to access thousands of companies and launch their ransomware.

“Our mission is to specifically defend companies actively targeted by nation-state threats. We choose to serve the (small- and medium-sized business) market because these highly innovative companies desperately need better solutions, that truly protect their important secrets. We know our mission is challenging. We know radical innovation will be required,” Petersen wrote.

The EDC also voted to approve $150,000 from the state’s Strategic Fund to help jump-start a $2.5 million fundraising effort needed to bring the Cities Summit of the Americas, an offshoot of the Biennial of the Americas. The event will run from April 26-28 at the Colorado Convention Center and other downtown locations and is expected to draw 2,500 credentialed delegates and thousands of other attendees.

The inaugural event will invite 250 civic leaders from the United States and 250 from other parts of the Americas and include hundreds more from nonprofits and business representatives, as well as a concurrent youth conference. The U.S. State Department chipped in $1 million, but another $2.5 million needs to come from other sources, many of them local.

The Colorado Tourism Office is expected to allocate $100,000 and Amazon has pledged a similar amount, with Walmart also expected to provide a big contribution. But commissioner Chris Franz questioned why fundraising efforts were starting so late, given that the event was only four months away.

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