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Power to the (techno) people: Louisville Digital Association replaces Social Media Club Louisville with new brand, community focus

by Terry Boyd

Jay Garmon, president of Louisville Digital Association, laid out the group’s new mission during Wednesday night’s announcement.

The Social Media Club Louisville is now the Louisville Digital Association.

It’s far more than rebranding, said Jason Falls.

The name change  – a step toward a broader, aggressive focus on advancing technology here – is part of a “a kick in the seat of the pants” for Louisville’s digital community, Falls said.

LDA also has a new president, with Jay Garmon replacing Falls, a co-founder of SMC Louisivlle with Todd Earwood, president of Try It Local.

Falls and Garmon told a crowd of about 50 people at the group’s December meeting, held Wednesday night at Papa John’s International Inc. headquarters, that LDA will have far more ambitious mission than talking about social media.

LDA can start the process of reaching out to Louisville’s centers of powers, Garmon said, “the first wave of tasks we want to tackle.

“We’re done talking. It’s time to do it.”

Garmon reiterated points made in an Insider Louisville post Wednesday including the importance of LDA lobbying government officials and educators about how to expand the base of new technology companies and skilled workers such as designers, application engineers and code writers.

“We want to help government and business embrace digital,” he said. “We have to say to businesses, ‘If it involves technology, we’re going to help you up your game.” Garmon also stressed that web-focused innovators have a lot in common with technologically advanced businesses, especially in bio-technology, and savvy investors, but they don’t often talk to one another.

“There are too many people who don’t know one another exists,” he said. One of LDA’s many goals will be to bring all those people together in one room.

Falls, now LDA events organizer, said he plans to continue SMC Louisville’s practice of bringing major national technology experts to Louisville.

In the future, they will include “all the people who’ve left,” Falls said, including Robb May.

May, whose relocation earlier this year of Backupify.com to Boston, was the catalyst for refocusing SMC Louisville into Louisville Digital Association.

Nationally, the ultimate big catch, Falls said, would be getting technology superstar Guy Kawasaki.

Kawasaki worked on the Apple Computer team that designed the first Macintosh computer. He’s now a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist and author of the best-seller, “The Art of the Start.”

“I have no problem going after the biggest names in the digital community,” Falls said.

In addition, LDA will add more entrepreneur-focused events, such as clinics on starting a business and clinics by successful national CEOs from Louisville.

Falls and Garmon acknowledged Louisville’s inherent limitations as a technology center. But Garmon said Louisville can be far more influential if LDA can rally educators, entrepreneurs and techno-professionals: “I think we can outdo Atlanta. I think we can outdo Boulder.”

LDA’s new mantra will be, Garmon said, “If your job involves a computer; if you’re doing work connected to digital, we’ve got your back.”

The rest of the story:

  • LDA has formed four committees:

The LDA Publications Committee is headed by Garmon, CBS Interactive’s Jason Hiner and Doe-Anderson’s David Finch. It will operate the group’s blog and email newsletters, and will publicize key digital industry events, trends and tactics from a Louisville perspective.

The LDA Events Committee is headed by Falls and HealthCentral’s Chris Hall. It will plan and promote the lectures and guest panels offered by the LDA. As was the case under the Social Media Club masthead, these events will continue to feature some of the most prominent and well respected figures in the technology industry.

The LDA Education Committee is headed by Jason Loehr of the agency Mad*Pow, Humana’s Elle Waters, and Consuming Louisville’s Michelle Jones. It will conduct instructional seminars and bootcamps for LDA members and professionals in the region, with the goal of fostering more and better digital innovation in and around greater Louisville.

The LDA Membership Committee is headed by Jim McDonnell of Papa John’s and Nick Huhn of local startup Keepio. It will oversee the interpersonal networking opportunities for LDA members, with the ultimate goal of fostering connections that lead to the creation of more local digital start-ups and the local placement of more digital professionals.

  • The board of directors:

The SMC Louisville board numbered five. LDA has 10 board of directors/officers.

Officers: Jay Garmon (Backupify), president; Michelle Jones (Consuming Louisville), vice president; Jason Falls (Social Media Explorer), secretary/events; David Finch (Doe-Anderson), treasurer.

Board members: Elle Waters (Humana), Chris Hall (HealthCentral), Jason Hiner (CBS Interactive), Nick Huhn (Keepio), Jason Loehr (Mad*Pow), Jim McDonnell (Papa John’s International).

  • So, what happens to Louisville’s affiliation with the San Francisco-based national Social Media Club?

If someone wants to start another Social Media Club-related group for Louisville, then LDA will hand off its affiliation, Garmon said.

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