For and about Central Louisiana's community of entrepreneurs, innovators, changers and makers.

Issue 6, Volume 3

- December 20, 2016

Meet Bahia Nightengale:
Director of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative 

Bahia Nightengale is the new Director of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative. She works to strengthen Central Louisiana’s rural economy with the development of resilient farms and ranches that partake in local and regional local food systems. Her work encourages increasing access to healthy food within Cenla, and exporting high-value agricultural products throughout the state and North America.

Bahia has more than two decades of experience in community development and local food systems. Most recently, she was the Community Development Manager for the City of Temple, Texas. Originally from rural California, Bahia has lived in more than a dozen states, working to implement resources for communities that meet the health, social, economic and environmental needs of all residents. Bahia talked to SourceCode about her new position:
You have lived in communities throughout the nation, but never in Louisiana. What attracted you to make the move to Central Louisiana to become director of the Local Foods Initiative?
"Having worked with CLEDA several times over the past four years, I always enjoyed the team, the community, and the region. I am very excited about this opportunity to live in a smaller community, and work in a broad region doing work that crosses multiple sectors of economic development, community engagement, entrepreneurship, and food-systems."
In your opinion, what are some things that the initiative is doing well?
"The Local Foods Initiative at CLEDA is staying focused on creating more farmers, more opportunities and more connections. The initiative encourages strong rural economies in a way that supports main-street businesses, value-added industry, and community health."

Are there any improvements to existing programs that you’d like to see in the near future?
"We are all looking forward to increasing market opportunities for existing local food producers while also training new farmers and ranchers within the local food system.  This could help us all access more fresh, healthy local food, increase family farm incomes, and create rich cultural experiences in our communities."
Are there any new programs/projects that you plan to implement?
"I will be providing technical assistance to new and beginning farmers and ranchers, focusing on building strong businesses that can respond and adapt to the changing economics, science, and technology in agriculture."

Could you explain the economic impact of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative?
"There have been multiple studies that highlight the potential for economic benefits through local food production and purchasing in Central Louisiana. I’ve seen firsthand the impacts on the ground in Iowa, Nebraska, and other states. This gets back to our work to create more farmers, more opportunities and more connections." 
Cenla business owner named to NSBA Leadership Council

Congratulations to BAS client Clay Matchett, Principal and Co-Founder of MV Health, on his appointment to the National Small Business Association Leadership Council. NSBA is the nation’s oldest small-business advocacy organization. Matchett will represent Central Louisiana as he joins other small-business advocates from across the country to promote the interests of small business to policymakers in Washington, D.C.
Clay’s one-year appointment began in December. The group will gather twice in Washington, DC, and also meet by teleconference quarterly. “I'm honored to be representing Central Louisiana business owners. As a small business owner myself, I understand the struggles and successes of running a company," he said. "This opportunity will allow me to utilize my personal experiences, as well as my internal desire to help create positive change and community impact, and get our voice heard by the leaders in Washington.”


Top 4 reasons why you should join BAS

Do you want to grow your business in 2017? Are you ready to take it to the next level? Here are the Top 4 reasons why you should become part of the Business Acceleration System, an entrepreneurial development program administered by CLEDA. If you already have a business or if you want to start one, BAS is for you.

1. You get one-on-one training and guidance from our business coaches. Our coaches will meet with you regularly to help you identify and develop your strengths, mitigate weaknesses and capitalize on your growth opportunities. We're here to help you succeed. If you grow, Central Louisiana’s economy grows!
2. You get lots of networking opportunities and peer interaction. In addition to meeting personally with BAS coaches, you’ll meet monthly with a team of entrepreneurs who are also going through the program. During team meetings, you and other entrepreneurs will brainstorm ways to resolve problems, overcome obstacles and increase market share. Outside of meetings, you’ll have a group of like-minded individuals you can ask for help as you grow your business.
3. It’s free. Thanks to funding from The Rapides Foundation, Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance and the USDA, all of our services are offered to you free of charge. What do you have to lose?

4. Local business owners say BAS helped take them to the next level. Here's what a few BAS clients had to say: 
  • “The BAS coaches are constantly assisting me. Anything I am looking for, whether it’s networking or software, they are there to help me." 
  • “The level of support from BAS has been amazing." 
  • “The accountability, the advice the guidance, the skill development have all been crucial to our growth and success. It’s like having my own board of advisors or board of directors to help make sure I’m on the right path.” 
Ready to take your business to the next level? Follow the link. You'll be happy you did.

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