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The Center for Business and Information Technologies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is going the extra mile to help businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina with relocation and redevelopment.

Usually concentrating on business-to-business economic development, CBIT has changed its immediate focus to assisting businesses affected by the storm’s devastation while working closely with the Louisiana Economic Development and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

The Center has retooled its website www.AccessLouisiana.com to reflect several helpful options for displaced businesses. The first feature is a listing of immediately available commercial real estate. A second feature includes a needs-assessment survey for displaced businesses. This survey can also be used by operational businesses who want to provide assistance with training, equipment or other needs.

“ We never intended this economic development portal to be used in this ‘triage’ mode, but with the devastation of this storm, we had to find a way to help businesses,” said Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, CBIT director. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity for us to do something meaningful for these businesses and this state.”

Kolluru explained that a growing database of 3,500 business sites and buildings were listed on the website just a few days after its launch. Today, more than 4,500 are listed. To deal with such a fluid market, CBIT created a simple data entry form for real estate listings.

“ We are entering data into AccessLouisiana as we speak,” said Kolluru. “The picture of real estate availability is changing by the hour. To facilitate expeditious processing, we’ve created this quick data entry form. The goal is to help displaced businesses with their relocation needs.”

Currently, more than 170 businesses completed the website’s needs-assessment survey since its launch. Fifty of those businesses were seeking assistance while 120 wished to provide assistance.

“The idea is to get an inventory of business/employee needs so that these businesses become operational in the next two to three months, at the latest,” said Kolluru. “Another facet of this feature leverages the spirit of volunteerism that exists – where businesses from all over the state and the country are stepping up with things they can provide to assist displaced businesses.

“ We want to match the needs of businesses with the capabilities of the volunteers,” he continued. “CBIT’s commitment is to continue to work as long, as hard, and as aggressively as needed to keep Louisiana open for business.”

To offer assistance with a commercial listing or business need, visit www.AccessLouisiana.com or call the Center for Business and Information Technologies at (337) 482-0600.

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