Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance

Northwestern State University

More than 50 Louisiana higher education administrators met in Alexandria Monday to talk about how to do a better job of building an educated workforce in the region.

Central Louisiana’s regional food summit, Foodapalooza, is set Friday, Feb. 27, and organizers expect it to attract about 200 people.

The day-long event in Alexandria will feature seminars, such as planting a profitable garden for farmer’s markets, an introduction to worm casting, and developing food hubs. John Cotton Dean, regional food systems planner for the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, anticipates the third annual event will be the largest one yet.


Dozens of aspiring small farmers in Central Louisiana are taking a six-week course on how to work their land and make it into a business.

For the first time, the Alexandria-based Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance or CLEDA is offering a course called “Exploring Your Small Farm Dream.”

Gary Perkins runs CLEDA’s business acceleration system. He says CLEDA partnered with LSU AgCenter to offer an overview on how to start a small farming operation.

A new pilot program in Louisiana aims to get locally grown food into school cafeterias.

The Harvest of the Month project seeks one school in central Louisiana to participate in the grant.

The goal is to increase access to local produce in schools, encourage students to make healthy food choices, and deliver a curriculum that informs students where their food comes from in support of the local foods movement, according to John Dean, regional food systems planner at the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

The Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance has hired a regional food systems planner to create a marketplace that encourages the buying and selling of local produce in the alliance’s 10-parish region. John Cotton Dean is beginning to map out his new job. He started last month. He says it’s very forward thinking that the grant-funded job is housed within an economic development agency.