Looking Ahead at LOCC
THERE IS A SENSE of anticipation I can feel most days when in the lobby and mezzanine of Limerick's Absolute Hotel. And during monthly meetings of the Limerick Open Coffee Club, the energy level is perceptibly higher.
During September's informal meet-up in Limerick, numbers were down to 2006 levels and although that could represent a decrease in interest, I think it's a reflection of things percolating in office locations throughout the Midwest. I made the hour-long trip from Clonmel to Limerick to listen and learn. Several things came flying through conversations that bode well for the start-up and small business community in the area. In my case, I'm flicking through a few business cards and mental notes, deciding how to connect the dots.
At the top of the list is expanding the reach of a social media module I created in 2008, years before Twitter was on the bottom third of television screens. The third level material we teach about online social neworking needs to find its way into a FETAC programme that moms and house husbands can leverage to build stronger communities. I had two conversations in the Absolute Hotel about how to evolve this idea.
Part of our session around the Absolute Bar concerned how to bring like-minded energy into the mix for the 2014 City of Culture in Limerick. I think there's a lot of potential in the year ahead although some of that positive energy will depend on the amount of austerity programmed in next month's national budget. All of Ireland (not just Limerick) need more cash in pockets. I'm watching corner shops shrivel and die next to vacant places on main streets in every town I transit between Cashel and Limerick. Several of the ideas we discussed in Open Coffee about clever promotion and community engagement will work in those small towns too.
There's another thing worth noting in the air within 50 feet of the main bar where most of the Limerick Open Coffee conversations occur. It's relatively easy to overhear conversations between people with laptop screens up and pens on paper. I've heard folks chatting about commissioning major pieces of software development (websites, e-commerce facilities and apps) and that indicates the SME sector is pushing itself around the fiscal corner already. I'm certain that one of the conversations involved at least 100,000 euro of development costs (although the contract staff in the mix wouldn't get that amount). In the late 90s, I would participate in similar discussions, with much of the coding completed off shore at relatively inexpensive rates in Eastern Europe, Russia or India. The same kinds of technical discussions are happening today in the lobby and mezzanine of hotels across Ireland.
Perhaps an Open Coffee in the near future will shed more light on these kinds of development. I hope so, because we have several highly-qualified creative multimedia students who would like a slice of the action during their work placement period in the summer of 2014. I hope to have a methane gas issue sorted before then--thanks to #LOCC expertise shared in a separate conversation.