Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Louisiana Technology Council

The logo of "the tech capital of the South"®

I don't think I've ever spoken before about the Louisiana Technology Council and the incredible job they are doing to bring all members of the burgeoning information technology and business sectors together. Located originally in New Orleans, the LTC has branched out to Baton Rouge, but has members and sponsors headquartered in Shreveport, Monroe and smaller metropolitan markets like Lafayette. Last night I attended the annual business meeting of the small, but determined group led by the charismatic Mark Lewis. Lewis, who formerly worked with IBM, has been at the helm of the LTC for eight years. He is the spark that makes the engine run. This past summer he fan afoul of the Mayor's office when he and some of his partners ended up restoring thousands of "missing" e-mails from Mayor Ray Nagin's e-mail account that they claimed had been mistakenly erased and therefore not accessible to public record requests from the media. Lewis had been operating under the behest of the mayor, but when he held a press conference to announce that the e-mails had been deliberately erased, the contract under which he was performing the service for the city was scrapped. Later, he revealed the entire data drives were turned over to the F.B.I. So, I will admit there are some bad feelings there, but with the exception of Mayor Ray Nagin and several City Hall workers, he is almost universally hailed as a one-man dynamo and diehard promoter of technology in the state. Lewis ,whose expressed vision is to see Louisiana achieve status as "the tech capital of the South, " actually registered that phrase as part of his strategy. Last night representatives from area member firms (including me) heard of Lewis's ambitious plans for 2010 and one after another gushed praise upon him for all of his efforts. Lewis previewed a soon-to-be unveiled website that will update his present site and he has encouraged several partners to develop social networking tools and training opportunities for businesses and members that will make the site even more impressive. I am proud to be a member of the LTC and hope to contribute in a meaningful way to its newsletter. Unfortunately, I write too much for little or no pay and have even less time, so I will have to offer my services cautiously and on a limited basis. Nevertheless, there is much to hear about from the LTC and I encourage anyone in the area to consider becoming a member and deriving a number of benefits by doing so. I find the advantages of meeting with other like-minded IT individuals and firms to be of prime interest to me and invariably it creates an environment for expansion of business and informs them about better security and efficiency of networking and computing in the process. Lewis raises his entire staff's salary from the private sector, so he is not a public servant. They receive no public funding for which he is beholden and can operate with virtual impunity in promoting the organization's cause. My hat is off to Lewis and the fabulous staff he maintains at LTC. Despite the controversy of 2009 from which he is distancing himself and the LTC, we can all expect very good things from Mark Lewis and the Louisiana Technology Council.

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