The next Happy Hour edition of “Maker Mornings” will be Tuesday, November 14, at The Gem in downtown Alexandria and feature a keynote address from a Ville Platte businessman who created software that can be used to help police, search teams, hunters, and outdoorsmen. In addition, entrepreneurs will hear about a new zero-interest loan program for Central Louisiana businesses.
Maker Mornings is a quarterly event the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) launched in 2015 to bring local makers together to unlock their creative potential. The Happy Hour edition is held from 4:30-6 p.m.
“Maker Mornings allows us to develop more opportunities for our creative entrepreneurs,” said John Cotton Dean, Director or CLEDA’s Rural Prosperity Initiative. “Our upcoming Maker Mornings program is focused on inspiring our creative economy, and building programs that help strengthen small business opportunities.”
Bahia Nightengale, director of CLEDA’s Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, will announce CLEDA’s partnership with the micro-loan nonprofit Kiva. Through this partnership, local entrepreneurs are able to apply for crowd-funded, zero-interest microloans up to $10,000. Kiva loans can be used for a variety of business purposes, such as investing in new equipment, purchasing inventory, hiring staff, expanding product lines, marketing or advertising, Nightengale said.
“Maker Mornings continues to grow, as evidenced by our new Kiva partnership,” said Jim Clinton, CLEDA President and CEO. “We are excited to strengthen partnerships and programs that help our creative businesses prosper, and Maker Mornings has developed another opportunity to do so.”
Featured speaker Robert Stevens, who owns Robert L. Stevens Land Surveying LLC, will share his story of how he used his skills as a surveyor to come up with the idea for ActiveMapper, a data collection, mapping and group tracking software application. An LSU graduate and Alexandria native, Stevens started his own surveying company in 2013.
When a client asked if he could plot a 5,000-acre hunting club, Stevens came up with the idea of ActiveMapper, a user-friendly app that combines tracking software and navigation tools. ActiveMapper can be used to assist search-and-rescue teams, first responders, law enforcement, sportsmen and outdoor recreationalists. “The uses are only limited to what your brain will allow you to use it for,” he said. “My software is to make all these agencies more efficient.”
The first version of ActiveMapper was launched in August, and Stevens has plans to offer the software app as a monthly prescription service.
Stevens didn’t know much about computer technology when he came up with the idea, so he found an IT developer to help implement his plan. His advice to other entrepreneurs who want to put their thoughts into action: “Be cautious, be extremely cautious. Once you start an adventure, you have to get good attorneys, you’re going to have to trust someone and you have to learn a lot.”
Maker Mornings is free, but registration is encouraged. Register at cenla.org or contact John Cotton Dean, Director of CLEDA’s Rural Prosperity Initiative, at 318-441-3424.
For more information about ActiveMapper, visit activemappersoftware.com. For more information about Kiva loans, visit kiva.org.
The Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance (CLEDA) is an organization which consists of the economic development entities from the parishes (counties) of Allen, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Vernon and Winn. The mission of the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance is to help people prosper in vibrant, thriving communities.
John Cotton Dean
Director, Rural Prosperity Initiative
Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance