Most of the people who read my blog know this already, but I’m in the process of starting up a .NET user group in the Shreveport/Bossier City area. The group in Fort Smith got started just a couple months before I left, but it was something that I really enjoyed and felt had real value for developers interested in improving their craft. When I got to Louisiana, I was surprised to find out that a city the size of Shreveport didn’t have a user group already, so I thought it was about time we did.
I got some great advice from Michael Paladino, the leader of the group in Fort Smith about sponsorships, delegating leadership, and related organizational matters. Getting swag was actually a lot easier than I expected it to be. Every single vendor I contacted offered to give us something. One of the first component vendors I contacted, Telerik, offered to give us a license to their CMS package Sitefinity, as well as free hosting through a pertnership with DiscountASP.net. You can find the site at www.shreveportdnug.org. It’s kind of bare-bones right now, I apologize. It’ll fill out as we nail more things down logistics-wise.
The hardest part, which I still haven’t figured out yet, is finding free space to meet. Most of the businesses that employ .NET developers in the Shreveport area rent office space from the large buildings downtown, so parking and difficult after-hours access make those a no-go. I tried a couple of local universities, but the facilities they could provide would only hold arond 30 people max. Not exactly a limitation I’m confortable with. We’ve got one more school to try, but I have a bit of an inside track there because the son of the university president works for my current employer. That means that I’m not the one in charge of calling the appropriate people, but I’m not sure it’s a very big priority for the son. I need to ping him about it again on Monday. There’s one facility at one of the schools that sounds perfect, but it’s $120 per use of the room, and I’d like to keep the amount we have to get from sponsors to a minimum. If anyone else has some suggestions about where to look for space, please leave a comment!
I’ll continue to post about this as we get closer to holding our first meeting. Wish us luck!