The INNOV8 Festival continued in Lafayette Monday and all week, entrepreneurs in Acadiana are meeting together to discuss how to create and make the area better than ever.
INNOV8 began its "Launch Series" in a business state of mind as emerging leaders painted their vision of Lafayette 15 years from now.
It's been an opportunity for anyone who wants to have a say—speak up. Zachary Barker, the President of 705 Young Professionals, led one of the panels.
"INNOV8 has tons and tons of offerings to help people find their voice in innovation, whether it's from a business or technology stand-point, or whether it's for social development or community development," said Barker.
One of the focuses was on how to capitalize what Lafayette already has to offer and that means enhancing the arts, science, small businesses, and even develop the downtown area.
And for a city already known for its unique culture, across the board, panelists seemed to agree staying authentic is key, but finding how to market that is the trick.
"Let's just be this awesome city that we are, but let's support resources we already have and then with that, we become this amazing place," said Julie Bordelon, head of the Lafayette Entertainment Initiative.
But as local leaders continue to look for innovative, creative ways to build the future, Barker says developing downtown upwards and out will be part of the equation.
"The actual buying trends of larger cities are that people don't want to move far out (to the suburbs). They'd rather live on top of a coffee shop, next to an art studio, or around the corner from a music space," said Barker.