The Center for Creative Solutions bestowed its CREO! to Antonio Conley at Michigan City’s First Friday (May 3, 2024). Conley received the prestigious award for starting and running the Michigan City Kidspreneur Program for young entrepreneurs and creatives.
The event marked the last one of northwest Indiana’s celebration of World Creativity & Innovation Week, sponsored by the Center. The honor recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding contributions to promoting a culture of innovation in the region.
Outside his role as lead volunteer for the program, Conley wears many hats. An engaged father of four children, Conley works as a full-time auditor for a local business. In his spare time, he designs and sells his own line of clothing and is a real estate agent.
“Being creative, hard-working, ambitious, smart – these are all admirable traits. Yet, to a great extent, those are not what makes Mr. Conley extraordinary – a person worthy of this honor. You see, personal qualities like creativity, dedication, or persistence mean little if you don’t apply them with heart…if you don’t use your abilities to help other people,” said Cynthia Hedge, CEO of the Center. She and Dale Cooper, Center board member, presented the award before a crowd of young entrepreneurs, parents, sponsors and community leaders.
Speaking specifically to students, Hedge added, “Today’s CREO! winner has done just that. He didn’t have to start the Kidspeuer program. He could have just done his job, pursued his design work, or run two businesses. Instead, he volunteered to help young entrepreneurs and creatives like you to follow your dreams, to use your talents, to understand some of the most practical aspects of life: the world of creativity, entrepreneurship, finance and investment. In other words, he wants you to be productive, responsible, fulfilled and happy. When he successes, you succeed – and our community is stronger.”
Conley founded Kidspreneur in March 2023 with 10 participants. Over 80 students are involved today. “The ultimate purpose of Kidspreneur is to change the mind set of the community by tapping into the younger generation, by catching their attention head on, by showing them how to generate income on their own with talents that they already have. As we capture their attention, we teach them financial literacy while making it cool, and easy to understand while keeping their attention,” he explained.
Scheduled Kidspreneur events for the remaining of 2024 include:
June 7, July 5, August 2 and September 6, First Friday popup events, public invited, 7th and Franklin Streets in Michigan City;
June 14, Basic mechanic training for youth, teaming up with Apex Mufflers;
August, Youth Award Ceremony, details to be announced;
October 25, Halloween Party; and
December, toy & coat giveaway.

Past CREO! recipients are:

• O’Merrial Butchee and John Davies, leaders of the Ivy Tech Gerald I. Lampkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center and Society of Innovators (2014);
• Dr. Rakesh and Bina Gupta, Michigan City leaders advancing community innovation (2015);

• Leigh Morris, La Porte and regional promoter of innovation in health care, government and non-profit organizations (2016);

• Spark Labs of the La Porte County Public Library (2017);

• Ben Konowitz, La Porte businessman, comedian and improv actor (2018);

• Ed Buetner, Michigan City businessman and community leader (2019);
• None awarded due to the pandemic (2020);

• Earl Adams, La Porte inventor, creative mentor and entrepreneur, and Dr. Kuhn Hong, M.D., Michigan City, retired physician, artist and international humanitarian (2021);

• Naomi Anderson (posthumous), Michigan City citizen, poet and human rights champion in the 1800’s (2022); and

• Earl Miller, innovator at Hiler Industries, La Porte (2023).
CREO is a Latin term. It means “to create.” It stands for: Creativity, Regional, Excellence and Originality. The award is sponsored by the Center for Creative Solutions during World Creativity & Innovation Week, April 15-21. Co-Sponsors for the week were the Bethany Church Foundation of La Porte, WIMS Radio, Art on the Air of Lakeshore Public Radio, and the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest.
The Center for Creative Solutions, Inc. is a non-profit organization hosting creativity events and workshops throughout the year. Its next public event is the Fall Innovation Forum on September 21, 2024, “Touring Creativity through Architecture.”
Kidspreneur is open to all youth. For more information about the program, contact Conley at 219-210-1863. Inquiries about the Center may be directed to or telephone 219-326-7259.